15 December 2009

Asian wedding photographers warned they need New Zealand Visa

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A growing trend for Asian photographers to bring couples to New Zealand for pre-wedding photo shoots without work visas has seen the New Zealand Government issue a warning.

New Zealand immigration officials say photographers who come to the country to work without a proper visa are breaking the law.

To enter New Zealand for work-related purposes foreign nationals, unless they have an Australian passport, need to have a New Zealand Visa.

Many couples from Asian cities, such as Singapore and Taipei, travel to New Zealand with their photographer to have pre-wedding photographs taken, which are then shown at their wedding ceremonies. Part of the attraction of travelling New Zealand for these photos is the natural beauty of the New Zealand landscape, although many couples also choose to have their photographs taken in Australia, France or Switzerland.

However, Asian photographers say Asian wedding photography tourism should be more easily facilitated by the Government because of the valuable tourist dollars being brought into the country and the fact that these photographers do not take away work from New Zealand photographers.

One photographer told the New Zealand Herald he was stopped by immigration officials at the airport and told he could barred from returning to New Zealand, although he was eventually permitted to undertake the shoots after a verbal warning.

"They say I am taking work away from Kiwi photographers, but the reality is, our clients would not consider engaging New Zealand photographers because of language and cultural barriers," he said in Mandarin.

"I think the amount of money they spend here must be good for the tourism industry, and if New Zealand doesn't welcome us, then we will just have to take our jobs elsewhere."

It is estimated that couples travelling to New Zealand to have photos taken spend between NZ$3,000 and $7,000 for a photographer and stylist, as well as up to NZ$5,000 each for accommodation, bridal gown hire, meals, and vehicle hire.

Acting head of Immigration New Zealand, Lesley Haines said the agency could not discuss individual cases but it appeared some photographers were intending to work in New Zealand without the appropriate visa. She said photographers could apply for specific-purpose New Zealand visas that would allow them to do their photography shoots.

The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their visa applications to the New Zealand Embassy.


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