South African living in the UK caught out by New Zealand's new visa rules

2020-01-07 11:40 - Selene Brophy
Post a comment 0

We all hate the admin of visas - and many countries are tightening border security - even for visitors who are visa exempt - with the risk of not having the necessary documentation heightened.  

New Zealand's influx of visitors has seen it implement new security measures for travellers from 60 visa-waiver countries, in October 2019.

All visitors from these countries are expected to fill in a New Zealand electronic travel authority (NZeTA). South African travellers need a visitor’s visa - so they do not qualify for this security measure. 

MAPPED: A look at ETIAS - Europe's new travel requirement set to come into effect

However, the NZeTA requirement has caused confusion for permanent residents of other countries, as one South African living in the UK discovered.  

Jean van Wyngaardt and his Polish partner Kasia Luzynska booked their flights to New Zealand in April 2019 - saying they checked this new visa information on the Immigration New Zealand (INZ) website beforehand.

A South African living in the UK has shared how ne

(Photo: Jean van Wyngaardt)

The New Zealand travel authority details the form takes about 72-hours to process at a cost of between NZ$9 to NZ$12 ( about R86 to R115 at R9.59/NZ$). 

Van Wyngaardt filled in the NZeTa form with the understanding that he had a permanent Resident Visa for the UK and would be validated on that basis, even though he travels on a South African passport.

Wyngaardt has been in the UK since 2008 and is currently a business owner. He says he initially moved to the UK to travel more. "After some time I found that I really enjoyed the incredible diverse cultures of the people that live here."

He has now shared how an admin nightmare has their upcoming adventure of lifetime in flux, as the authorities he  initially spoke to telephonically were also unsure about the requirements.

"The NZeTA visa waiver page states you can apply for the NZeTA if you have the right to reside permanently in the UK. As it turns out, this only applies to UK passport holders, which is incredibly ambiguous. I mean, why would a UK passport holder not have the right to reside in the UK?” questions Van Wyngaardt.

READ: Visa-free = Hassle-free: 2019's most significant visa changes for SA

Van Wyngaardt says the provision of the “right to reside” on the website, next to the UK implies a special condition and is misleading. He now requires a visitor visa as he is not a citizen of the UK or travelling on a UK passport. According to Immigration New Zealand, some UK passports issued to residents of UK overseas territories do not allow the holder to reside in the UK. But more importantly he is travelling on an SA passport.  

READ: SA visa reform kicks in as New Zealand and 6 other countries given free entry 

Now more than a month after filling in the NZeTA and applying for his visa, and with less than a week to go before they are set to begin their trip, he is still waiting on his visa.

He will travel to Singapore for the two-days he and his girlfriend had planned before their actual trip to New Zealand on 15 January  – however, if he does not get his visa approved in time, he will lose all the flight costs.  

The NZeTA application can take up to 72hrs to be approved if done online, however travellers are being advised to check all the criteria beforehand to avoid any mishaps or messed-up travel plans. 

"South Africa is an amazing place, and I come back regularly to visit family and friends," says Wayngaardt. 

But in this instance for travel to New Zealand he warns, "Triple check the information provided because as it's written on the NZeTA website, it's not clear." 

Find Your Escape by signing up for the Traveller24 Weekly Newsletter – Subscribe here. Or download the News24 App here, to receive expertly curated travel ideas and deals directly to your mobile.