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How to get a New Zealand student visa

Learn everything you need to know to get your New Zealand student visa.

Caution: Visa processing for applications from outside New Zealand has been temporarily suspended from 10 August 2020 due to the pandemic. You cannot apply for a student visa from outside the country unless you are exempt.

In this article we will go over:

What is a New Zealand student visa?

A New Zealand student visa is a government document that authorises international students to enter the country to study. All international students need to get a student visa. The type of student visa will vary based on the course duration and the means of payment.

What are the types of New Zealand student visas available?

  • Fee-paying student visa

You need to apply for a fee-paying student visa if you are pursuing a full-term course with a duration of more than three months at a New Zealand university.

With this type of visa, you can work for up to 20 hours a week during school weeks and full time during holidays.

  • Pathway student visa

You can apply for a pathway student visa to pursue more than one full term course. You can choose up to three consecutive full-term courses and stay in New Zealand for 5 years to finish them with this visa type.

  • Exchange student visa

You need to apply for an exchange student visa if you plan to go to New Zealand to pursue a pre-approved student exchange program at a university recognised by the New Zealand Qualifications Authorities. The duration of your course can be a maximum of 4 years.

  • Foreign government-supported student visa

You can apply for a foreign government-supported student visa if you plan to study a full-time course with a duration of more than 3 months and less than 4 years. Your educational expenses need to be covered by a scholarship or a loan from a foreign country’s government. 

Note: If you are going to study a course with a duration of less than 3 months, you don't need to get a study visa. You can just use your visitor visa in this case.

When to apply for a New Zealand student visa?

Candidates are advised to apply at least three to four months before their intended date of departure as it typically takes about 2 months for a New Zealand student visa to be processed.

What is the eligibility criteria to apply for a New Zealand student visa?

  • You need to have an offer of place from a university or education institution approved by the New Zealand Qualifications Authorities.
  • You need to show evidence that you have enough funds to support yourself during your education.
  • You need to either have a return flight ticket to go back to your home country after your education, or you need to show that you have enough funds to book a flight ticket.

Checklist of required documents to apply for a New Zealand student visa:

  • A passport that is valid for at least 3 months after the end of your course.
  • Two passport size photographs of your head and shoulders. 
  • Letter of acceptance from a university authorised by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority.
  • A letter from the police department of your home country as proof of your character. 
  • Bank statements proving that you have enough money to pay for tuition and to support yourself during your studies.
  • Medical examination reports testing for infectious diseases.
  • Medical insurance documents proving that you are covered for the duration of your stay.

What is the average cost of a New Zealand student visa?

The visa processing charges majorly depend on the country you are applying from and the visa processing centre handling your application. For example, if you apply from India through the visa processing centre in New Delhi, your charges will be approximately NZD 330 + INR 747 for online applications and USD 222 + Rs. 1,124 for applications through post. Please check the rates charged by the processing centre closest to you before applying.

Where to apply for a New Zealand student visa

You can apply for a New Zealand student visa two ways:

  • Online - Go to the New Zealand immigration website and apply online by filling out and submitting the application form online.
  • Through post - Download the application form from the New Zealand immigration website, fill it out and submit it to your nearest visa processing centre in person.

Note: Applying online is convenient and faster in most cases.

How to apply for a New Zealand student visa online?

Step 1: 

Gather all the required documents, scan them and save them as PDFs.

Step 2: 

Create an account on the New Zealand immigration website.

Step 3: 

Fill out the online application form and submit the scanned copies of the required documents.

Step 4: 

After finishing your application, book an appointment for your visa interview.

Step 5: 

Finally, go to the visa processing centre on the appointed date for the visa interview and pay your visa processing charges.

What is asked in a New Zealand student visa interview?

Visa officers ask a few questions around the details mentioned in the visa application and the reasons behind choosing New Zealand as their study destination. The objective of this interview is to verify the details and make sure that the candidate is genuine.

Sample questions:

  • Why did you choose New Zealand?
  • Why do you want to study at [university name]?
  • Can you support yourself financially during your studies?
  • Is this your first time studying abroad?

How to handle a NZ student visa interview

Visa interviews are relatively easy. To prepare, you just need to go through the information you've given in your application and read about New Zealand and your university. 

On the day of the interview, dress professionally, arrive early and answer the questions calmly and confidently. 

Read 'How to clear your New Zealand student visa interview' for more information.

When can you come to New Zealand after getting your visa?

Your student visa will have the date from which it is valid. You can enter New Zealand on/after the dates mentioned. Usually, students arrive in New Zealand a few days before their course starts. 

How to shorten the processing time of a New Zealand student visa application

There is no extra fee that you can pay to shorten the processing time of a New Zealand student visa application. Ensure you submit all your required documents and give complete details in your application form to avoid delays.

If you have any other doubts or need more information, feel free to contact our educational advisors online.