The IEP Work Exchange Visa is now available through the International Exchange of North America.
This post describes the IEP Work Exchange Visa application process through BUNAC, but we have decided to keep it to demonstrate what it was like for the author.
There are countless ways to live abroad. Some people sell all their belongings, save up a ton of money, and backpack around affordable countries for a few months or years at a time.
Others teach English in Taiwan, South Korea, Spain, Italy, Georgia – anywhere people want to learn English. Others work for their companies’ foreign offices in London or Paris. Or they run their own online business from the beaches of Nicaragua or the Philippines.
Another option is a working holiday visa, which many countries offer. These special visas allow people to work legally in the country that granted them the visa for a certain amount of time, sometimes with a few guidelines. These guidelines may include the types of jobs foreign workers can obtain, the allowable length of stay, or age restrictions.
Working holiday visas are typically associated with 18-30 year-olds, but there is a special visa program for people up to 35 years old in New Zealand.
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New Zealand Working Holiday Visa
I looked into this option after I had already turned 30, so the age restriction deterred me at first. Although, while reading some posts in a travel-related Facebook group, I found a thread about this very topic. It mentioned a working holiday visa for those over 30 years old through a company called BUNAC, so I immediately looked them up.
BUNAC is a company that coordinates gap year opportunities to intern, work, and volunteer in select countries all over the globe. It’s London-based, but programs exist for citizens of the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
Among the opportunities, people can coach sports in South Africa, volunteer in Nepal, and work at a summer camp in the United States – plus much more. Each program has a different fee associated with it, depending on which country you hail from.
Exclusive to BUNAC is a visa that allows travelers up to 35 years old to live and travel in New Zealand for up to one year. They have a limited number of visas to release to applicants every year.
Read more about New Zealand:
- New Zealand Working Holiday Visa (podcast)
- How to Prepare for a New Zealand Working Holiday
- Travel New Zealand By Bus: Everything You Need to Know
- 6 Cheap or Free Things to Do in New Zealand
What BUNAC Provides
- Excellent support before and during the visa application process
- In-country support once you arrive, including assistance with taxes, banking, job and accommodation search support
- Access to affordable flights through STA and international insurance (if you have no experience buying/researching your own)
- First two nights accommodation at a hostel in Auckland
- Voucher for transportation to the hostel from the airport
- Work New Zealand handbook and orientation
- Plus a Lonely Planet New Zealand guidebook, luggage storage, free internet at resource centers across the country, NZ$5 phone card, and mail forwarding service
*The IEP Work Exchange visa is exclusive to BUNAC, so it can only be obtained by going through this program.
- You must be a US citizen and apply for the program while physically in the US. Your passport must be valid for six months after your planned departure from NZ
- Must be between 30-35 (inclusive) years old. Inclusive means you may turn 36 while living/working in NZ
- Payment to BUNAC for the Work New Zealand Essentials Program ($629). Included in this fee are visa costs
- Proof of $4200 NZD (about $3000 USD) in a bank account. Plus $1100 USD if only purchasing a one-way flight to NZ – $4100 USD total
- Flight itinerary and proof of confirmed flight to Auckland
- Comprehensive international insurance covering your entire length of stay in NZ
If you have already spent 12 or more months in New Zealand using another Working Holiday Visa:
- Medical exam and/or chest x-ray (NZ is very strict about TB)
- FBI background check
Benefits of Going to New Zealand with BUNAC
I’ve been searching for the right way to live abroad and explore a country in-depth for a long time. For a while, I conceded to the notion that I had outgrown the opportunity once I turned 30. With BUNAC, I have finally found one that works for me. I feel like the doors of working abroad have been reopened for me once again.
This program suits me because I won’t feel alone. I’m going to New Zealand on my own, but the program (a requirement at my age) allows me to meet others in the program right away in Auckland. We will inevitably scatter across the country after the orientation, but I will potentially have several new friends to reach out to as I make my way around the country.
It suits me because I plan to stay the full 12 months that the visa allows, so I will have plenty of time to explore at my own pace. I tend to stay too long in destinations, trying to understand what it’s like to live there. Now, I will live there!
Lastly, it suits me because I’ll have both routine and variety – and the freedom to choose between the two. Spontaneity has room when the longest I can stay with one employer is six months. No feeling stuck in a rut for this girl.
This visa program is exactly what I’ve been searching for. See you soon, New Zealand!
Explore New Zealand:
- New Zealand: Christchurch City Guide
- Things to Do in Queenstown for the Less Adventurous
- Wanaka, New Zealand City Guide
- Rotorua, New Zealand City Guide
- 5 Best Day Hikes in New Zealand + Helpful Hiking Tips
Ready to Book Your Trip?
Some of these links are affiliate links.
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