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New Zealand Student Visas

If you want to study in New Zealand for longer than three months, you will need a student visa. (If your course lasts less than three months, you can enter the country on a visitor visa instead.)

To qualify for this visa, you will need to meet health and character requirements. This includes proving that you do not have a criminal record and having an up-to-date medical examination. Your medical examination should include a complete medical history, blood and urine tests, and a chest X-ray to screen for tuberculosis. You will need to have your doctor fill out the form provided by Immigration New Zealand, and it must be filled out in English. You’ll also need to show that you’ve been accepted at an approved school. Finally, you need evidence that you have sufficient funds to support yourself while you study, since you are not allowed to work full-time. You must have access to at least $15,000 per year.

Unitec New Zealand campus.
Unitec New Zealand campus. Photo © Ingolfson at English Wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Student visas are granted for up to one year at a time, so if you are planning to study in New Zealand for several years, you need to reapply for your student visa each year. In most cases, you need to be a full-time student to qualify for a student visa. You can be a part-time student if you are enrolled in a course that requires you to complete a certain amount of work experience. Once you have finished studying, you must either leave the country or apply for a job search visa, a work visa, or a residency permit.

It’s important to arrange for proper medical insurance while you are in New Zealand on a student visa. International students are not covered by the public health care system, and you will be asked for proof of your insurance as part of your visa process.

Students are allowed to work part-time on a student visa, up to 20 hours per week, if enrolled in a student exchange program lasting at least one year or a tertiary level program lasting at least two years. You can also work full-time over the summer holiday period.

Once you have been granted a student visa, you must attend classes full-time and get passing grades. If you decide to stop taking the course you were approved for and enroll in a different subject or at a different school, you will need approval from Immigration New Zealand or your visa could be revoked.

If you want your partner or children to come to New Zealand with you while you study, they will have to apply for visitor visas. These last only three months, so they will need extensions if you are staying longer.


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