You can apply for a student visa after enrolling full-time with a New Zealand university or other education institution (such as a technology institute or polytechnic). New Zealand has a paper-based system in which you send documents by mail and interviews are seldom required.
A student visa is required for all full-time international students on a course of more than 3 months. New Zealand treats all student visa applicants similarly but has different options to give flexibility. For example, there are several ways to demonstrate that you have adequate funds to support your studies.
Step 1: Enrol in a NZ education institution
The first step to obtaining a student visa for New Zealand is to apply for a course or courses. To apply directly with an education institution, download the application form from the education provider’s website.
If your application is successful, you will receive an Offer of Place.
- To accept the offer, respond to the letter by signing and sending an acceptance of offer back to the institution.
- The Offer of Place is a contract between you and the institution. It sets out the course, enrolment conditions and course fees.
- Check that you can meet all visa application requirements before paying any course fees.
After you have accepted the offer and paid a deposit, you will receive Confirmation of Enrolment. This outlines your course start date, total course fees and how long the course will run.
Step 2: Fill out a student visa application
You can apply for a student visa with Immigration after receiving an Offer of Place or after also receiving Confirmation of Enrolment.
- An offer of a place includes a declaration from the provider that an assessment has been or will be carried out to ensure that you meet the competencies required for the course.
Completing the student visa application for New Zealand is usually straightforward and relatively light in terms of documents that you need to supply.
- You need to show that you are able to pay all outstanding course fees and have NZ$15,000 to support yourself for each year of study or $1,250 per month.
- You may need to supply a medical certificate if you are in a high-risk disease or health category.
- A police certificate is required for new international students intending to stay for 24 months or longer.
Step 3: Pay the fee and submit
Completing the application form may take some time as you need to gather required documents.
Supporting documents for New Zealand visas are usually sent as certified copies but originals of some documents are also required. All documents are returned by mail if you do not make arrangements to collect them from a visa office.
- Certified copies are authorised, or stamped as being true copies of originals, by a person or agency recognised by the law of the country in which you currently reside.
- Documents in languages other than English must be accompanied by an English translation.
The end of the visa application form asks for credit or debit card details or a bank cheque to pay the visa application fee. The fee is a few hundred dollars for most international students but can be reduced to zero if you apply in person through an office of a New Zealand education institution.
Step 4: Travel to NZ with your student visa
You can travel to New Zealand as soon as your visa is approved. Attach the visa to your passport to gain entry when you arrive.
It is recommended that you open a local bank account at a convenient branch location soon after arriving.
Having a car is very handy in many parts of New Zealand. To allow this, bring your driver’s licence along with an English translation if needed.
Your education institution should provide you with pre-travel and arrival information and many have international student guidance on their websites.