Understand the requirement needed for a Student visa for New Zealand
New Zealand welcomes people from all cultures and countries around the world, although you will probably need a visa. Luckily, New Zealand has visa offices around the world so it should be easy for you to get the ball rolling, wherever you happen to be.
Everyone who comes to study in New Zealand from overseas must meet certain rules and requirements. If you are coming to New Zealand to study for more than three months, you will need a student visa or permit.
In this article you can find out whether you need a visa or permit, whether you'll qualify, and what a student visa or permit will allow you to do.
People who do not need a student visa or permit
You don’t need a visa or permit if you are a citizen of New Zealand or Australia, you hold a New Zealand residence permit, or you are the holder of a current Australian permanent residence visa including a current Australian resident return visa.
(If there are conditions on your residence visa/resident return visa, then you will need to apply for a student visa.)
If the course you want to study is a single short course of less than three calendar months duration, and is approved or exempted by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) , you do not need a student visa and can apply for a visitor visa.
If you want to study two or more short courses of study or training (whether at the same time, or one after the other), you need a student visa or permit.
If you have been offered a place in an approved exchange scheme you may apply for a student visa for the duration of your exchange, provided you meet the normal health and character requirements and are a bona fide exchange participant.
You must also provide evidence that you:
- have been accepted into an approved student exchange scheme (from the scheme organiser)
- have onward travel arrangements for when your exchange scheme has finished.
Requirements for a student visa or permit
Before you apply, ensure that you understand the requirements that you need to meet, and the requirements that your course must meet.
The first essential is to have an offer of a place from a New Zealand education provider. The offer must include:
- the name of the course and the minimum time required for completing it
- proof that the course and course provider meet New Zealand’s requirements for international students
- the amount of the fee for the complete course or, if the course is longer than one year, the annual fee
- whether you have to pay course fees and whether the fees are domestic or foreign
- whether you are studying full-time or part-time.
Your course must be approved by the NZQA.
Certain conditions apply to course providers:
- Private training establishments (PTEs) can only offer international students approved courses that are longer than three months and registered with the NZQA. The PTE must be accredited by the NZQA to offer the course
- Institutions including universities, polytechnics, colleges of education and wananga (a type of publicly owned tertiary institution that provides education in a Maori cultural context) can only offer approved courses that are longer than three months and registered with the NZQA. The institution must be accredited to offer the course. The enrolment of an international student must not prevent a New Zealand student or an NZAID student from gaining a place at the same institution.
You have to meet health and character requirements and prove to the immigration service that your intent is genuine.
Some people who have committed serious crimes will not be allowed into New Zealand at all. (For full details, see section 7(1) of the Immigration Act via the immigration service website listed at the end of this article).
Evidence of funds to support yourself
To gain your student visa or permit, you must prove that you can meet your living costs during your stay. Suitable evidence for this may include:
- enough money held in New Zealand by you or on your behalf
- an undertaking by another person to cover your accommodation and living costs (you must provide this before you leave for New Zealand)
- an undertaking by a New Zealand sponsor to cover your accommodation and living costs, or
- financial assistance available to you under aid programmes operated in New Zealand by a government agency.
Courses shorter than nine months
If the course you intend to study lasts less than nine months, you’ll need to show that you have access to:
- NZ$1000 for each month of your stay
- NZ$400 for each month, if your accommodation is already paid for (you will need to show evidence of this), or
- a letter from your education provider saying that your accommodation and other living costs are included in the package you’ve already paid for.
Courses longer than nine months
If the course you intend to study lasts more than nine months, you’ll need to show that you have access to:
- NZ$10,000 per year to cover your costs during your stay in New Zealand, or
- if you are a citizen of Samoa or Tonga, a written guarantee from a relative who is a New Zealand citizen or resident that they will cover your living costs.
Evidence of funds may be in the form of cash, travellers' cheques, bank drafts, or a recognised credit card with enough credit.
Proof that you plan to leave
So that the immigration service can be sure you will leave New Zealand when you have finished your course of study, you will need to show how you will leave New Zealand.
For example, you might hold travel tickets out of New Zealand to a country you are allowed to enter, or evidence of enough money held in New Zealand, additional to the funds you’ll need for your living expenses.
You must have a passport that is valid for at least three months past the end of your intended stay.
Permit requirements during your stay
Once you have your student permit, you must meet certain conditions during your stay:
- You must attend the place of study noted in your permit. However, you can apply to change your course or institution
- You must be able to show that you are passing your course
- You may only undertake work allowed by your student permit
- You must obey New Zealand’s laws.
- You must stay in New Zealand only for the time allowed by your permit.
If you break any of these conditions, your permit may be revoked.
What a student visa or permit allows
Having a visa and permit for study in New Zealand means you can study in New Zealand for a set time at a specified institution as a full-time student.
- If you are a full fee-paying student, you may be granted a student permit for the period for which you have paid course fees (up to a maximum of four years)
- If you are studying at an education provider with which Immigration New Zealand has a Memorandum of Understanding you have the opportunity to apply for a Length of Course permit
- If you are a full scholarship or fees scholarship student you may be granted a student permit for the period of your award (up to a maximum of four years).
Ordinarily, you need to be studying full time to be eligible for a student permit. However, you may be allowed to study part time on a student permit if you are:
- coming to New Zealand to study for at least three years and the course requires you to gain practical work experience as part of your study
- coming to New Zealand to study for a maximum of nine months, your course meets New Zealand's foreign student policy requirements, you can show that you have paid the course fees, and you meet the visitor requirements, or
- in the final semester of a course of study in New Zealand, resulting in a New Zealand qualification that would qualify for points under the Skilled Migrant Category.
- to meet course requirements for practical work experience, or
- during the Christmas and New Year holiday period if you are in a full-time course of study lasting 12 months or longer, and/or
- for up to 20 hours in any given week during the academic year if you are in full-time study at a private training establishment or tertiary institution and taking at least two academic years to complete, or culminating in a New Zealand qualification that would qualify for points under the Skilled Migrant Category.
In order to work, you will need to have the conditions of your permit changed. You can find out how to do this via the Immigration New Zealand website.
If you want to work in New Zealand after you have completed your studies, you need to apply under the Study to Work Policy via the same website.
When you apply for a student visa, you will need to pay a fee. The fees finder section on the website should help you establish what you will need to pay.
Partners and children of students
If your partner or children want to come to New Zealand with you, they will need to apply for a visitor visa or, if they will also be studying, their own student visa.
You must have appropriate and current medical and travel insurance while you're studying in New Zealand. Student permit holders are generally not eligible for publicly funded health and disability services.
If you're sure you need a student visa and/or permit, and you meet the requirements, find out how to apply by visiting the Immigration New Zealand website at: www.immigration.govt.nz