Working holiday craze grows bigger
Updated: 2015-03-10 07:55
By Xu Jingxi(China Daily)
Visa programs for New Zealand, Australia allow Chinese visitors to take part-time jobs
New Zealand is expecting strong demand for its 2015-16 Working Holiday Scheme for Chinese citizens, which opens for application on May 19, according to the country's immigration office.
Last year, the Immigration New Zealand website crashed due to the volume of traffic when working holiday visa applications for Chinese opened, and the quota of 1,000 visas was filled within nine hours.
The program was launched in 2008 as part of the free trade agreement signed by New Zealand and China. An annual quota of 1,000 working holiday visas is allocated to Chinese aged from 18 to 30, allowing them to travel in the country for up to 12 months and work part time.
"To grab a working holiday visa to New Zealand is like scrambling for a train ticket during the travel rush at Spring Festival," said Wang Lan, chief director of the Australia and New Zealand department at New Oriental Vision Overseas Consulting.
"The craze for a working holiday in New Zealand will continue and become even bigger, as the concept of a gap year is gaining popularity in China. People eligible for the program are those born after 1985 who grew up in an opening-up period and have a sense of adventure," Wang said.
Australia has become the second country after New Zealand to grant visas to Chinese for working holidays.
When the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement was signed in November, the two countries also completed negotiations on a Work and Holiday Arrangement under which Australia will offer 5,000 work and holiday visas annually to Chinese.
"It may seem easier to apply for the Australian program with the quota of 5,000 visas, but the application is more complicated. For example, it requires a letter of support from the applicant's government, but we need further clarification from the Australian authorities," said Wang.
Eliza Chui, education commissioner for North Asia at the Australian Consulate-General in Shanghai, told People.com.cn that the details of Australian Work and Holiday Arrangement will be released in May.
Alan Barry, a counselor at the New Zealand Immigration Office in Beijing, said that the recent introduction of the Australian Work and Holiday Arrangement to Chinese citizens is expected to complement his country's working holiday program rather than be considered as competition.
But New Zealand made a change last year to strengthen the attraction of its program. Applicants approved from Dec 8, 2014, onward, can now work for the same employer for a period not exceeding six months instead of the previous three months.
"This change was made to provide greater flexibility to New Zealand employers and to Working Holiday Scheme participants," said Barry.
Sun Xiangfeng, who visited New Zealand from November 2011 to February 2013 with a working holiday visa that was extended by three months, welcomed the change.
"Participants can now apply for a greater variety of jobs. Three months are enough for farming jobs, but technical and office employers expect a longer period," Sun said.
The 28-year-old quit his banking job for a gap year in New Zealand to "open his eyes to different values and ways of thinking about life".
"The diversity of lifestyles in New Zealand was a shock for me. People live whatever kind of lives they want to. In contrast, buying houses and cars seems to be the unitary goal for many people in China," Sun said.
(China Daily 03/10/2015 page7)