Student Visas

Note: Student visa applications from those outside New Zealand remain suspended until further notice. However, on 14th January 2021 and 5th March 2021 exceptions to the current border restrictions were announced to allow 250 PhD and postgraduate students and 1,000 returning bachelor and postgraduate international students to continue their studies.

Visas are available for those seeking to study in New Zealand.

New Zealand’s educational institutions are well regarded throughout the world.  There is a range of opportunities available to international students – quality secondary school education, and internationally respected and recognised tertiary education providers.

There are a number of student visa options available, but how you do know which visa is right for you?  Are you even eligible for the student visa you want?  What happens if your student visa runs into trouble?

Student visas are not just restricted to those seeking to attend University. School-age children can also obtain student visas. Guardians accompanying school age students are also eligible for a temporary entry visa, and can gain a limited work right.

Student Visas

International Students (full-fee paying)

Generally, applicants must

  • Hold a formal offer of a place from a State Institution or Private Training Establishment (PTE)
  • Pay full international fees.
  • Have sufficient funds for support, or be sponsored.
  • Hold comprehensive Health Insurance.
  • Satisfy Immigration New Zealand that they are a genuine student (not using a student visa application for some other purpose.)
  • Be of good health and character.

However, there is currently a suspension on most student visa applications from those applying from overseas.  On 5th March 2021, exceptions to the border restrictions allowed applications to be lodged by those who are:

  • PhD and postgraduate students – if they hold, or have held, a visa to study in New Zealand.  Students must prove they have NZD$15,000 per year for living costs.
  • Bachelor and postgraduate students – if they hold, or have held, a visa to study in New Zealand that was valid in 2020, and they have been nominated by their education provider.  Education providers will work with Ministry of Education to identify eligible students.  Students must provide they have access to at least NZD$20,000 per year for living costs and evidence that they have additional money to pay for managed isolation and quarantine.

Online study

Student visa applicants who are outside New Zealand can study online without a visa.

When New Zealand’s border restrictions are lifted, student can provide evidence of their online study to support a visa application. If students choose to study online their home country first, they will still need to meet standard student visa requirements to be granted a student visa.

School Children

Children from overseas may be educated in New Zealand from Primary, through Intermediate to Secondary levels, in either State owned or privately owned schools, subject to payment of fees and certain conditions that are in place to protect students and ensure a satisfactory education experience.

Schools that wish to offer places to overseas students must be approved to ensure quality pastoral care arrangements are in place to care for all of the child’s needs, both scholastic and residential.


Guardian Visa

A parent or legal guardian can apply for a visa to accompany their children aged 17-years or younger to New Zealand and, in limited circumstances, may even gain permission to work or study while the child is at school.  Again, these visas are currently on hold while the borders are closed.

Domestic Students

School age children of those in New Zealand on work visas can attend Primary, Intermediate or Secondary school as “Domestic Students”.

They need to apply for a Student Visa, but do not need to pay International Student Fees. This concession does NOT apply to tertiary studies.

Is your work visa application in trouble?

On occasions even the most straightforward student visa applications run into problems.  Those problems can be concerns about poor attendance or performance.  Quick intervention can often save an application from being declined.

Pacific Legal has advised on many student visa applications.  If you have an Offer of Place to Study in New Zealand and you are thinking of applying for a student visa, be sure to contact us for professional advice and representation.

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