As an international full time student studying in New Zealand (NZ) you need one of the three types of study visa:
- Fee paying student visa: for students studying full time up to four years
- Foreign government supported student visa: for students who are receiving a scholarship or loan from a foreign government in order to fund studies
- Pathway student visa: for students who will be studying more than one program consecutively
The most common visa international students require for NZ is the fee paying student visa; it costs NZ$295 to apply online from outside of NZ. It may be cheaper for you to apply for your visa via post depending on your nationality.
New Zealand study visa process (fee paying student)
- Receive an offer letter: your chosen institution will send you an offer letter for you to accept, and then you’ll have to pay any upfront tuition and accommodation fees.
- Get a medical exam: you’ll need to have a medical examination by a doctor approved by Immigration New Zealand.
- Get a Police Clearance Certificate (PCC): you can get a clearance certificate from a Regional Passport office or from the Deputy Commissioner of Police for your area.
- Create an account and apply online: you may also be given the option to apply via post. Make sure to keep your payment receipt from your application fee.
- Receive a decision: the time it takes to receive a decision on your visa varies depending on the country you are applying from. You should always try to apply three months before your course starts.
New Zealand student visa processing time
The amount of time it takes to process your visa will vary based on a range of factors. However, the New Zealand government have reported that:
- 50% of applications are processed within 13 days
- 75% of applications are processed within 24 days
- 90& of applications are processed within 46 days
That means you can expect to get your visa in between two and seven weeks.
NZ visas for student dependents
Your spouse or partner may be able to join you in New Zealand with a Partner of a Student Work Visa, however the restrictions around this mean the majority of students won’t be eligible.
You must be studying towards a Level 7 or 8 qualification on New Zealand’s Long Term Skill Shortage List, or a Level 9 or 10 qualification in order for your partner to join you in New Zealand. If you’re unsure of the level you are studying at, your university will be able to tell you.
NZ student visa requirements
At some point throughout the application for a NZ student visa, you may be asked for the following:
- Confirmation of an offer
- Documents to show you can support yourself such as bank statements
- Passport standard photographs
- Valid passport
- Medical certificate
- Police clearance certificate
- Medical and travel insurance
- English language proficiency test results (recommended IELTS 5.5 and above)
- Payment receipts
- Proof of onward travel or enough funds to buy transport home
Working with a Fee Paying Student visa
On a Fee Paying Student visa for New Zealand you are able to work up to 20 hours per week during term time, and as often as you want during university holidays. Master’s by research and PhD students are exempt from this limit and can work as many hours as they wish.
What to do if your visa is refused
If you believe that your visa was refused in error, then you can ask for your visa decision to be reconsidered in writing. If New Zealand Immigration reviews your application again and decide you are correct, you will be granted the visa you were refused. There may be a cost for a reconsideration process.
You can only ask for your application to be considered again, if:
- You are in New Zealand when you make the request
- You hold a valid visa, i.e. an interim visa
- Your request is received no more than 14 calendar days after your application was declined
If you believe you can submit another visa application that fixes the reason you were declined, then you should reapply. You’ll have to pay the application fee again and ensure you fully cover any issues you had in your previous application.