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How to Get a New Zealand Student Visa

How to Get a New Zealand Student Visa main image

New Zealand may often end up crudely stereotyped as a rugby-mad country cut off from the rest of the world and overrun with hobbits, but, truth be told, there are plenty of reasons to consider moving to a university here (and not just because you’re a Lord of the Rings super-fan). Here’s everything you need to know to apply for a New Zealand student visa.

People who DON’T need a student visa for New Zealand

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If you’re a citizen of New Zealand or Australia, have a New Zealand residence class visa, or hold a valid Australian permanent residence visa (including a current Australian resident return visa) without conditions on such a visa, you don’t need a student visa for New Zealand. If none of the above applies to you then you will need to apply for a student visa.

People who DO need a New Zealand student visa

If you’re planning to study in New Zealand for more than three months and are from outside of New Zealand or Australia, you will need a student visa.

For courses under three months long, you can study in New Zealand with a temporary/visitor visa. For longer courses it is mandatory that you get a student visa.

How to apply for a New Zealand student visa

To make an application for a New Zealand student visa, you can apply online or in person before traveling.

To apply in person within your home country, you will need to contact your local New Zealand consulate or embassy to get an application form and/or appointment. Alternatively, you can apply online by visiting the official website www.immigration.govt.nz, and creating an account. You should apply at least six weeks before you plan to travel to New Zealand.

Application fees vary depending on your country of origin. You will need to show:

  • Acceptance letter from a university in New Zealand

For your New Zealand student visa application, you will need to provide proof of acceptance at an accredited New Zealand-based education provider.

  • Evidence of sufficient funds

You will also need to show that you have sufficient funds to pay your tuition fees (this can include evidence of loan coverage, scholarship or other funds) and proof of funds to cover your living costs while you study in New Zealand (via a sponsor, a loan, a scholarship, government support or sufficient bank balance). You need to prove you have at least NZD$15,000 (~US$10,870) for each year if your course is longer than nine months.

  • Proof of onward travel

This can be evidence of already paid-for onward tickets, proof of further funds or agreement from a sponsor to pay for onward travel. The point is to show that you intend, and can afford, to leave the country once you complete your studies.

  • Travel insurance

This can often be arranged through your education provider.

  • Medical certificates

If you are planning to study in New Zealand for more than 12 months you will need to provide a general medical certificate, a chest x-ray certificate and possibly undertake a tuberculosis screening.

If you are under 18 you will also need to provide proof of arranged accommodation, and if you are 17 or older, a police certificate of “good character”.

As well as documents to prove the above, you’ll also need to provide:

  • Two color passport photos
  • A passport valid for at least three months after the date you plan to leave New Zealand
  • Proof you’ve paid the application fee

Student visas applied for online usually take 20 days to process, while student visas applied for via the paper form take 25 days to process.

Can you work in New Zealand with a student visa?

International full-time students with a student visa are legally allowed to work in New Zealand for up to 20 hours per week during term time, and may work full-time during all scheduled holiday periods such as Christmas, Easter and summer holidays. Work experience required in your studies doesn’t count towards the 20-hour limit. International students can’t be self-employed.

Masters by research and PhD students can work as many hours as they wish.

After your studies you may still be eligible to work in New Zealand, but you will need to check with the visa authorities and then apply for the appropriate work visa.

For further information about New Zealand student visas or about your ability to work in New Zealand, visit the government’s official immigration website.

This article was originally published in July 2014. It was updated in June 2017.

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Laura Tucker's profile image
Written by Laura Tucker
Laura is a former staff writer for TopUniversities.com, providing advice and guidance for students on a range of topics helping them to choose where to study, get admitted and find funding and scholarships. A graduate of Queen Mary University of London, Laura also blogs about student life.

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