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A little background: I received the Working Holiday Visa last year in December, but renewed my passport in January and forgot all about it until earlier this week. I rushed to submit a visa transfer application 3 days ago and since INZ said that the transfer generally takes 11-20 days, I included a cover letter explaining the situation with my air tickets.

I am flying in 3 days and there has been no news. I am from a Visa-waiver country and therefore shouldn't have problems going into NZ without a visa, but I am worried about the Visa being cancelled because I am on NZ soil, or because Visa-waiver counts as a visa or something.

My question is, should I come clean at the Customs with an immigration officer or just go through the e-gate under visa-waiver? I am worried about being denied entry if I come clean, but I do have my old passport and emails stating that my work will only begin on 20th March (more than enough time for transfer to be done). I will only be sightseeing for the first 2 weeks. Advice would be greatly appreciated.

  • This FAQ implies that the WHV is valid and you try to enter on a visitor visa instead which is not what you want to do. I'm not sure I'd chance it. – mkennedy Feb 28 at 23:25
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The following quote from I have a Working Holiday Visa but want to enter New Zealand as a visitor explains your situation quite clearly (emphasis mine):

If you insist on entering New Zealand as a visitor instead, your Working Holiday visa will automatically be cancelled if you are issued a Visitor Visa at the border however not everyone is eligible for this and you could be refused entry.

Because you have a different passport number than when you originally were granted your WHV, it is possible that this may not happen automatically. However, they will catch up to you when you try to transfer your WHV and they realise what you have done and would not hesitate to cancel your WHV manually.

  • If I just show up at immigration and explain my situation with both my passports and the relevant documents, will I be able to get through? It says on the INZ website that you will be "delayed" if you have the e-visa tagged to a different passport, but does that include being denied entry? – user92903 Mar 1 at 1:31
  • @user92903: You might be able to sort it out on entry. I would phone INZ directly and ask whether you can do that in your situation. The fact is, you have been granted a WHV, so technically it should be possible. As they say, expect delays. I would not necessarily expect to be denied entry. – Greg Hewgill Mar 1 at 1:51
  • Oh, the other thing you will want to consider is whether the airline will accept your documentation and allow you to board the plane in the first place. Because you are (probably) planning to spend more than 3 months in NZ, you won't have a return flight booked within that time, which will raise flags in their system for an NZ visitor, unless you can convince them that you will actually be entering NZ with a WHV. – Greg Hewgill Mar 1 at 1:52
  • I see. I wouldn't mind delays; just afraid of being denied entry. I am also only staying for slightly less than 3 months due to personal reasons, and have accommodation and the return ticket all booked. I am also curious about the wording on this page: immigration.govt.nz/new-zealand-visas/apply-for-a-visa/… which says that if your passport is different, you must "apply to transfer" before you fly, instead of "must be transferred" before you fly. I am kinda banking on this at this point. – user92903 Mar 1 at 2:13

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