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Apply and renew student visa in NZ

Need a Kiwi student visa? Find out all you need to know about a NZ student visa, from eligibility criteria to the benefits for you.

There are different student visas in NZ, and the most common one used for international students is the student visa.

  • student and trainee work visa
  • pathway student visa
  • Exchange student visa
  • fee paying student visa
  • MFAT funded NZ scholarship student visa
  • foreign government supported student visa
  • vocational trainee student visa

While the terms and conditions are different for each visa, they all enable you to:

  • take part in a degree or course with an eligible institution
  • include your partner and dependent family members in your application
  • apply online in or outside New Zealand
  • some visas allow you to work limited hours while you study

What is the eligibility criteria for student visas?

  • you must provide proof of your identity using a valid passport or certificate of identity
  • you must be in good health, with a chest x-ray and medical exam as proof of health
  • you must meet character requirements, providing police certificate/s from countries you have lived in as proof
  • you need to have an offer from an approved education provider with a confirmation of enrolment as proof. This needs to include the following information:
    • the name of your course
    • the length of your course
    • if study is full or part time
    • whether study is distance, correspondence, or in person
    • the dates of scheduled holidays
    • if you are a minor, proof that accommodation meets the standards required for international students
  • you must have enough money to pay tuition fees and living expenses (estimated at NZ$1,250 per month at least). You need to provide evidence to support this, which could include bank statements, a letter advising of scholarship payment, loan confirmation, or fee waiver from your institution
  • you must have full travel and medical insurance for the duration of your stay
  • you must have proof of onward travel at the end of your visa
  • you must genuinely intend to meet your visa conditions, which is judged based on your application and circumstances

What are the conditions for the NZ student visa?

  • you must attend your course and make satisfactory progress
  • you must leave NZ before your visa expires
  • if you are under 18, your parent/ legal guardian must live with you and not leave NZ without you
  • you must maintain your medical/ travel insurance
  • you must notify NZ immigration of any changes to your circumstances
  • you must provide fingerprints and photograph upon arrival into NZ

Your rights on a NZ student visa

  • this visa gives you the ability to study in NZ for the length of the course, up to four years. 
  • this could be for secondary school, university or a polytechnic, or English language schools.
  • you are allowed to work for 20 hours a week while studying, and full time in the holidays


How to apply for a student visa

1. If you’re outside New Zealand, apply for your visa at least six weeks before your course begins. If you are already in NZ, allow plenty of time (one month at least) before your current visa expires. 

2. You can apply online, or on paper. Online is recommended as it makes communication faster and simpler.

3. Use the student visa application checklist to ensure you get all your documents. Make sure all documents all in English or have English translations. This includes:

  • a completed INZ 1012 student visa application
  • the application fee
  • valid passport
  • education certificates
  • English certificate
  • medical sign off or chest x-ray
  • cover letter
  • proof of enrolment/ letter of acceptance from your leaning institution
  • receipt of tuition fee payment
  • police certificate/s
  • proof of funds
  • proof of outward travel or the funds to buy a ticket
  • evidence of employment if applicable
  • letter of recommendation if applicable
  • evidence of accommodation is highly recommended

4. Apply online through the NZ Immigration site, which directs you to create a ‘RealMe’ account, which is NZ’s internal affairs site.

5. Pay the relevant fees.

6. Await immigration’s decision, or they may advise they need more information. This will happen through the RealMe portal.

What is the student visa application checklist?

The checklist makes sure you provide all required documentation and evidence for your student visa application. It outlines every document needed, what is acceptable, and any special evidence you need from specific countries.

What is the cost of the NZ student visa?

The cost of the student visa is NZ$310 as of July 2021. This is the immigration department processing costs. This includes an immigration levy and an international visitor conservation and tourism levy of $35.

What is the processing time for the NZ student visa?

Processing times at present are estimated at within 32 days.  50% are completed within 11 days, 17% within 18 days, and 90% within 32 days.

Can I include others in my application?

If you wish to bring your spouse or children with you, they can apply for visas based on their relationship with you.

Do I need health insurance?

Yes. You need health insurance in order to have your student visa approved. Your insurance must cover your travel to and from NZ, within NZ, and any travel undertaken as part of the course. It must cover all medical care within NZ including diagnosis, prescriptions, surgery and hospitalisation. It also must cover repatriation or expatriation including any travel costs for family who assist in this process. This insurance can be obtained privately, and some institutions can help you arrange this.

Will I need to take an IELTS test for my NZ student visa?

You need to provide evidence of acceptable English language skills. This includes:

  • IELTS score of 5.0 or more, or
  • TOEFL IBT overall score of 35 or more, or
  • PTE Academic overall score of 36 or more, or
  • FCE/ FCE for schools with an overall score of 154 or more, or,
  • OET with grade C or higher in all four skill types

What do I do if I need to extend my visa?

If you need to extend your visa, your education provider can make an application on your behalf if they are certified with Provider Direct. This process is usually very quick, within a week.

If your learning institution is not registered, you can apply for an extension/ renew your student visa yourself by filling out an INZ1012. This is the same process that you followed for the initial student visa application, and will usually be processed within a month. 

You will be required to provide evidence that your progress on your course was satisfactory and you attended classes regularly. If class attendance has not been consistent or your grades are not sufficient, your extension will not be approved.

Study visas are only issued for a year, so you will need to reapply for every year of your programme. 

If you are on a Pathway Student Visa, this allows you to study in NZ for up to five years over three different courses, and you will not need to renew your visa.

What are the visas I can apply for after I finish my education?

Once you’ve completed your study, you can stay in NZ on a post-study work visa. This can be for one, two, or three years depending on where you studied and the qualification you gained. You can work in almost any role, however obtaining employment in a relevant field is the goal.

You can apply to extend this visa under certain conditions.

You can also apply for a range of different working visas, especially if your employment is on the skills shortage list. 

  • Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa
  • Essential Skills Work Visa
  • Long Term Skill Shortage List Work Visa
  • Talent (Accredited Employer) Work Visa
  • Global Impact Permanent Residence Visa
  • Talent (Arts, Culture, Sports) Work Visa
  • Specific Purpose Work Visa

What do I do if my situation changes?

There are a number of scenarios where you are expected to update the NZ Immigration service about the changes. These include, but are not limited to:

  • a new passport
  • changes to your address or other contact details
  • if your relationship status changes
  • the status of any minors under your care changes
  • the birth of a child

Can I change my course?

If you are going to change your course, your provider, or study location, you must apply for a variation of conditions. Fill out the ‘variation of conditions’ form and pay the fee.

Are there welfare arrangements for minor applicants under 18 years of age?

If you are less than ten years of age, your legal guardian must accompany you to NZ. If you are between 10 and 17 years old, your legal guardian does not have to accompany you if you are in the care of a residential caregiver.

The guardian must apply for a visitor visa. They must live with you while in NZ, and they cannot leave NZ without you. 

How do I know what the visa outcome is?

You will be notified of the outcome, either by email, your RealMe account, or by mail. 

What are the working rights on the NZ student visa?

Each student visa has slightly different conditions. However, tertiary students who are 16 years or older are allowed to work up to 20 hours a week while studying a full time course of at least two years of duration. You can also work full time during holidays and semester breaks.

Can I travel on my NZ student visa?

Yes. Student visas usually are multiple entry visas, allowing you to travel overseas and return to NZ. If you do not have multiple entry conditions and you leave NZ, your visa expires.


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