My Oz visa is up but I don't want to go home. What are my options?

Ask the Experts: New Zealand offers lots of potential

Q: James, in Sydney

I'm writing to you from Australia, where I have been on a Working Holiday Visa for the past nine months. I'm loving it here, but with my visa coming to an end, and new visa rules being introduced by immigration here, I feel I need to look beyond Australia for the next destination in my adventure (I have no intention of returning to Ireland just yet). I'm thinking that New Zealand might be a good choice for me – not least because of its proximity to where I am now. I'm not sure what options I have for getting a visa to work there. Can I apply while I'm in Australia or would I have to come back to Ireland? Is it easy to get a working holiday visa there? I'm a 30-year-old brickie.

A: Edwina Shanahan, managing director at

First things first – no, you won’t have to leave Australia – you can apply from there from a WHV for New Zealand, provided you are still eligible to be in the country. Do not overstay your welcome in Australia, as they do not look kindly on that.

Secondly, New Zealand is a great option for Irish people – hence its popularity. The most recent emigration statistics from New Zealand report that for the last full year on record, from July 2015 to 2016, a total of 1,652 Irish workers travelled there on Working Holiday Visas, a further 1,533 went there with work permits, and 215 people went there on spousal/defacto visas.

Finally, the fact that you are in construction is a big plus for you. From speaking with both employers and employees, it would appear that there are lots of opportunities for Irish tradespeople.


Three options

There are three main options for Irish people who wish to work in New Zealand, and the first two are likely to be the most suitable for you:

1. One-Year Working Holiday Visa: To be eligible, an applicant needs to be less than 31 years old, and accompanying children cannot travel on this visa. Visa holders can work for 12 months with one employer –- as opposed to Australia where there is a six-month limit.

2. Work Permit Visa: You need a job offer to apply for a work permit. It is available to pretty much all occupations and can be organised in about two weeks. However, with this particular visa, a spouse has to apply for their visa separately, as do any dependent children. Trades without papers can apply, and the visa is granted based on the fact that the applicant’s experience is suitable to the requirements of the job.

3. Skilled Migrant Visa: This is the permanent resident visa, which takes about a year to come through. To be successful, an applicant’s skills have to be assessed. This is a points-based visa, so there is a minimum points requirement needed to enter a skills pool. From this pool, the applicant will be selected for a permanent visa by New Zealand immigration. If you don’t have a job offer, it is very difficult to apply for permanent residency.

Move quickly

My advice to you would be to move quickly, because you only have three months left on your Australian working holiday visa. Also, applications can be tricky and there’s a fair bit of paperwork involved. To ensure you have all the necessary documentation, it might be worth engaging the expertise of a migration expert to assist you, though it is possible to do it on your own.

Just one point to note – you say you are really enjoying Australia – so perhaps you might want to consider staying on? As a bricklayer, if you are under 31 and have completed three months’ regional work, then you could be eligible to apply for a second Australian working holiday visa.

Have a query for our panel of experts about emigrating, life abroad or moving home? Email them to This column is a reader service and is not intended to replace professional advice.