Working holiday visa is popular among Chinese

Updated: 2014-11-21 07:37

By Yang Ziman (China Daily)

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New Zealand, the only country to offer a working holiday visa to people in China, met its yearly quota of 1,000 WHVs within 24 hours of opening the application review process on July 8.

The working holiday plan, which went into effect in 2008, is a result of the free trade agreement between New Zealand and China.

It is designed so that young Chinese people can learn about New Zealand with firsthand experiences, which in turn could boost tourism, education and immigration in the country.

Travelers holding a working holiday visa can take temporary jobs to subsidize their travel without having to search for sponsorship or participate in university student exchange programs.

Wu Fei, a Shanghai-based publisher, said the year he spent under a WHV in New Zealand was the experience of a lifetime.

At the age of 26, inspired by a friend's working holiday in New Zealand, Wu set off for the country with only $200 after successfully applying for a WHV in May 2010.

Since the WHV stipulates that one cannot do the same job for more than three months, which encourages the visa holder to visit more places and get a more comprehensive view of New Zealand, Wu did odd jobs. He picked kiwi fruit and cherries, acted as a movie extra, and worked as an assistant for a hunter and a chef.

Wu journeyed throughout the country at intervals while holding these jobs. He saw live volcanoes and a waterfall. He even fell in love with a girl. When he had spent all the money from one job, he would start another job for the next adventure.

"Before I left, I knew that I would come back as a better person," said Wu.

"I kept in touch with my family and friends in China so that I wouldn't feel overwhelmed the moment I had to return back to my normal life. Yet the experiences will always be treasured as an antidote to the hectic city life."

WHVs, which are usually available to people aged 18 to 30, are valid for one year. Successful applicants must have a return ticket, or enough money to pay for one, and be traveling to New Zealand mainly for a holiday, with work as a secondary consideration. An applicant cannot previously have been granted a WHV.

The lowest wage in New Zealand is NZ$12.50 ($9.80), or NZ$10 after taxes are deducted. Therefore, one can take home at least NZ$400 for a 40-hour workweek.

A working holiday is a good way to spend a year off for travel.

"A gap year is very popular in Western countries. It is still catching on in China," said Liang Ailai, manager of the Australia and New Zealand department in the Guangzhou branch of JJL Overseas Education. "It is a period of time in which people disengage from curricular education and work to get close to nature, try various jobs and experience different lifestyles in a foreign culture."

(China Daily 11/21/2014 page2)