New Zealand Student Visa

New Zealand is, in many ways, the final frontier. It was the world’s last settled land mass – both by indigenous peoples and then later by European colonists – and remains a young, vibrant nation to this day. Its national spirit is reflected in its landscape, whose pristine beauty and geographic isolation have given rise to a uniquely well-educated population. Indeed, it is this reputation for education that has led so many international students to New Zealand in recent years.

Long home of several of the Pacific Rim’s best colleges and universities and a major a destination for foreign students from throughout Southeast Asia, the island nation has expanded its offerings in recent years in an effort to attract international students. At the same time, New Zealand has long been attracting international students of a different sort for decades. As one of a handful of English-speaking nations – and one of only two in Asia – it has developed a strong network of English language schools that proudly caters to students from the region and beyond.

In many ways, though New Zealand’s reputation precedes it. If you are already considering applying for a student visa in New Zealand, however, questions remain.

Who needs a New Zealand student visa?
In short, not everyone. Citizens and residents of Australia do not need a student visa. Citizens of Canada, Germany, Japan, Taiwan and the United Kingdom can use the cooperative Working Holiday arrangements set up by their government with the government of New Zealand to study for up to six months without a formal student visa. Likewise, students from any other nation who wish to enroll in a program or course of study that lasts less than three months (such as a short-term English language immersion program) do not need a student visa. If, however, you are a degree-seeking student or simply wish to study in New Zealand for more than three months you will need a New Zealand visa.

So how do I qualify?
Once you have decided you need to apply for a New Zealand Student Visa, you will need to satisfy the same kinds of requirements as laid out by other developed countries. These include proof of acceptance, maintenance, and exit.

  • To prove acceptance, you need to have been admitted to an approved education provider in New Zealand and be able to provide documentation to that effect.
  • To meet the maintenance requirements, you need to provide evidence that you have sufficient funds to support yourself while studying in New Zealand. The recommended amount for a single student is approximately NZ$10,000 per year.
  • To meet the exit requirements, you need to provide evidence (such as roundtrip airfare) that you intend to leave New Zealand when your program of study terminates.

How long can I stay?
Once approved, full time student will be granted a New Zealand student visa that is valid for the same period they provided proof of payment for during the maintenance requirements (above). This period can last up to, but not exceed, four years.

Can I work while there?
In short, yes. Full time students can work part time (up to 20 hours) during the academic year and full-time during holiday breaks with some restrictions. Part time students – who are not normally granted student visas – must work in order to meet their course requirements for practical work experience. For those interested in less restrictive arrangements, a Working Holiday visa allows students to both work and study at their convenience.

In the end, then, if you are considering applying for a student visa in New Zealand, why wait? Adventure is around the corner!