New Zealand tourist visa for Indians with Behindtrips

Greetings from Auckland, New Zealand. This first post is about NZ tourist visa. NewZealand tourist visa for Indians is a bit complex and time consuming to procure than say neighboring country Australia.
Below are the extra complexities involved in NZ tourist visa, compared to Australia
  • VFS, a popular visa processing agency with branches in all major cities, do not process NZ visa (as told to me by VFS Chennai staff). This means you will have to avail services of a lesser known travel/visa agency. VFS Global assists with NZ visa for Maldives, Pakistan and many other countries in Asia, but not India [Link]
  • New Zealand Consular office is only in Delhi. The process involves physical submission and collection of passports. So if you’re not residing around Delhi, you have no option but to avail services of an agency for NZ visa
  • While Australia gives eVisa (you can get your passport back after filing application), NZ requires passports to be physically submitted
  • Australia doesn’t ask details of previous employment. NZ does. (not complaining, just FYI)
  • I got a reference ID and a receipt upon filing my application for Australia visa at VFS- No tracking details for NZ, only an acknowledgment of application receipt.
  • Many flights to NZ from Asia are via Australia- particularly Air Asia- this means you will need Australia transit visa, in addition to NZ visa. More time, more paperwork.
For my NZ Visa processing, I availed the services of Behind Trips, a 3 year old travel agency, registered in Kanyakumari and having presence in various South Indian cities. They do assist for NZ and China and other country visas through their partners in Delhi (Not UDAAN, not sure of partner agency name. Their name was recommended by Karthik Murali who availed their service for China visa.)

New Zealand Tourist visa processing fee: Cost me INR 9200, including agency fee. Could vary slightly from agency to agency.

New Zealand Tourist visa processing time:  Here’s the tricky part- the websites say 75% of the applications are processed within 11 days, 90% within 21 days, 95% in 31 days and rest will take even longer.

The processing time is a factor of following
  • No of applications received at the consulate along with yours (work load)
  • Complexity of an individual application- Any additional information officers may need on your application
  • Holidays in between during your application and available manpower (no of staff)

I faced following challenges during my NZ Visa processing
1. Agency set wrong expectations, stating applications take only 10-12 days to process. They should have set clear expectation that it may take more than a month in worst case. There was a fast track option I would have availed. Applicants are not allowed to change from standard to fast track post submission.
2. The processing timeline range for NZ visitor visa is bit wide- 11 to 31 days+. Can't predict if it takes 11 days or 31+, have to plan for worst case scenario- 31 working days+ which is almost 1.5-2 calendar months-so can't plan anything for about 2 months after submission, which isn't easy for someone having lots of travel or who may get urgent work related travel needs. At least if they can commit to a sooner passport release it would have been better.
3. Behind trips person said I can't apply for eVisa, have to apply for stamped visa. Later I was told they have applied for eVisa (Apparently now only eVisa are issued, nothing stamped on passport, as per embassy helpline)
4. I had a possible Malaysia trip mid September- An invitation from Malaysia tourism, some 28 days after my passport submission for NZ. I was counting on receiving the passport back in time to process Malaysia eNTRI and travel. But without clear information on the passport, Malaysia trip was facing uncertainty- I had to eventually cancel it.
5. New Zealand Embassy New Delhi helpline is sometimes tough to connect. Their number- +91 11 4259 6300 almost always says all their executives are busy and disconnects- won't even give an option to hold and wait. Once managed to connect, but I was told they can't provide any info on the processing status-when can we expect the passport back etc- essentially they can only give a generic timeline info available on website, nothing more. But the lady on the phone gave following information
- That my passport was received 13 days ago and is still in process
- That the visa is no longer stamped on the passport- it will be emailed
- That the passport may be released earlier, but can't give a date
- That I should wait till end of the week and can call back again to check if passport can be released earlier. (this is after I said I have a travel coming up and need passport asap)

I called after 3 days- on last day of the week as advised but I was in for a full disappointment. I was told passport can't be released earlier and is likely to be released after 23 working days and I should call after those many days if I don't get it.

This meant I had no hope of getting my passport back in time for Malaysia travel opportunity I had.

Not too many Indians visit NZ due to its distance and expensive tickets, compared to other countries such as Australia, Europe or US/Canada. So I was hoping for a quicker processing. A friend had his NZ visa in about 10 days- guess I was unlucky. I got my visa in about 20-23 days eventually but by then I had committed to cancelling Malaysia trip. Visa was not emailed to me but was given to the agency, who then forwarded it to me.

It is also my partly fault I booked multiple tickets without giving lots of gap in between or checking visa processing timelines. I will be more careful in future.

Validity: Going through lots of trouble for a Visa might be worth if it is valid for a longer duration and gets multiple entry. Australia usually grants one year multiple entry visa. But NZ tourist visa validity seems to be at the discretion of the officials- you may get it for few months or longer.

Documents needed for NZ visa:
Standard stuff- application form, itinerary, tickets, confirmation, proof of funds etc. Follow instructions from the official website or your travel agent.

Australia Transit visa: As per TIMATIC, Indian passport holders will need Australia transit visa if your flight to NZ stops in Australia. Australia transit visa takes about 10 days and costs roughly INR 1000 in VFS fees (Consulate doesn't charge). However during my journey no one asked for Australia visa- my guess is they would have got it verified on APP based on my web check-in info.

Having said that, each country will have its own rules, policies, priorities and process for issuing visa. They don't really need advise from outsiders on how to improve it or quicken it. If we have to visit a country we need to comply with whatever process and timeline laid out. Else only thing we can do is to plan a trip somewhere else. Intention of this post is not to criticize anyone but only to keep my readers updated on the process involved, so that they can plan better.

Disclaimer: Above post is based on my personal experience. Visa processing timelines, decisions depend on lots of factors, so individual experiences may vary. Please use for reference purpose only, refer official sources for required documents, timelines and other details.

7 comments:

  1. Glad it all worked out for you in the end. Visa processing for New Zealand has gotten really slow offlate from what I hear. I don't see the need to go through an agent though. Did you prefer a paper application over online ?
    I applied 2 years ago and submitted my application and paid my fees fully online. A week later they asked me for an extra document which I uploaded same day and they asked me submit passport at TT Services which is the authorized provider similar VFS. 1 week later I had passport with stamped visa in my hand thru courier.

    Recently NZ has moved to a fully eVisa and no stamping is done I was told. Been over a month since I have applied this time and no update from them. Also they return the passports now while the visa is being processed which was great for me because I m in the middle of another trip.

    I tried contacting them and they say no case officer has been assigned for my application till date which seem really disappointing. I see a lot of people complaining on travel forums. NZ is a great country and they can surely do better in terms of Visa processing!

    Thanks for your point about Australian transit Visa , I think you can apply online for free without having to go through an agency.

    Have a fun trip and hope I hear from them soon. Don't forget to try the manuka honey and hokey pokey ice cream.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Varun for the detailed comment. Wishing you happy trip too.
      Will try applying Australia visa online next time

      Delete
  2. Very informative post.
    Enjoy your New Zealand trip.
    Greetings.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Very nice read to your article which is related to New Zealand tourist visa for Indian. I am really thankful to have the information from this post.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Very informative.
    I hope you are having a good trip.

    ReplyDelete

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