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Which Visa Do You Need to Study in New Zealand?

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What Visa You Need to Study in New Zealand

Studying in New Zealand is a great way to experience life abroad while gaining qualifications to help start a career. To legally study in New Zealand you will need to have an appropriate visa. There are multiple visas to choose from which determine how long you can study in New Zealand for. We will go through the main types of visas you need to study in New Zealand below.

Each type of visa for studying in New Zealand, whether it’s a student visa, working holiday visa or visitor visa, has its own set of conditions and requirements. We have listed these conditions and requirements in each section below.

When deciding where to study in New Zealand, take a look at the 5 Best Universities in New Zealand for inspiration. And remember to take advantage of travelling this stunning country while you are here by following our 30 Tips for Backpacking in New Zealand.

How to Apply for a Visa to Study in New Zealand

Applying for a visa to study in New Zealand is made easy thanks to the Immigration New Zealand website. You can apply for student visas and working holiday visas online. You may not even need to apply for a visitor visa at all if you are from a visa-waiver country. Applying online is cheaper, easier and faster than sending a paper application.

What You Need to Apply for a Visa Online

  • A valid Visa or MasterCard to make the application fee payment
  • Your passport details
  • A computer and reliable Internet
  • Electronic copies of supporting documents, such as a placement offer from an educational institution

For a complete list of study visas for New Zealand, check out the Immigration New Zealand website.

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Student Visa for New Zealand

Study for More Than Six Months

To study in New Zealand full-time for more than six months, you will need a student visa for New Zealand. There are eight different types of student visa for New Zealand, however, we will run through the three most popular types of student visa to study in New Zealand.

Fee-Paying Student Visa: this student visa allows you to study a full-time course that is stated on your visa.

Exchange Visa: you can study full-time in New Zealand in a school-to-school exchange, an exchange programme organisation scheme or a tertiary exchange.

Pathway Student Visa: Study up to three courses, one after the other, on a single student visa for up to five years. For example, you could study English, then a foundation course then a degree all on one visa.

Conditions of Student Visas

On New Zealand student visas you are able to do the following:

  • Work part-time up to 20 hours per week during term and full-time in holidays
  • Study full-time at a course stated this includes schools, tertiary (study after secondary school) and English language study
  • Live by yourself over 18, otherwise come with a legal guardian

Requirements of Student Visas

To be eligible for a student visa, you must:

  • Must have available funds for an onward travel ticket out of New Zealand or a return travel ticket
  • You must have sufficient funds for the length of your stay or a sponsor (usually about $15,000 per year)
  • You must have travel and medical insurance from at least the time you enrol to the time your visa expires
  • You must attend the course you have enrolled and make satisfactory progress
  • Have an offer from an approved education provider
  • Evidence that you can pay for your tuition fees or that your tuition fees are covered
  • A valid passport
  • An accommodation guarantee if you are under 18
  • Be able to pay the visa application fee
  • If you plan to be in New Zealand for more than 12 months, it is likely that you will need to provide a medical certificate, chest x-ray and police certificate.

For more information about each type of New Zealand student visa, check out the Immigration New Zealand website.

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Working Holiday Visa for Studying in New Zealand

Study for Up to Six Months

The Working Holiday Visa for New Zealand allows you to study or train in New Zealand for under six months. It also allows you to work for up to 12 months. Unlike the student visa, you do not need to have an offer from an approved education provider when applying for the Working Holiday Visa. For more information, check out What is a Working Holiday Visa? and start applying by following Working Holiday Visa Online Application Guide – Part 1.

Conditions of a Working Holiday Visa

On a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa you are able to do the following:

  • You can work and travel in New Zealand for up to either 12 or 23 months (depending on your country’s Working Holiday Scheme)
  • Work for up to 12 months
  • Study or train for up to 6 months’ total

Requirements for the Working Holiday Visa

To be eligible for the Working Holiday Visa for New Zealand you need to have the following:

  • Are from one of the eligible countries. List here.
  • Are able to show you have sufficient funds to support yourself (approx NZ$4200 available).
  • Have a return ticket or sufficient funds to purchase one (approx NZ$1000 extra available).
  • Have no dependent children with you
  • Never been on a Working Holiday to New Zealand before
  • The main reason you’re coming to NZ is for a holiday with work being your secondary intention
  • Evidence you hold adequate medical insurance for your time in NZ (check our insurance page for plenty of info on this topic).

For information on your country’s specific requirements by selecting your country on the Immigration NZ website.

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Visitor Visa for Studying in New Zealand

Study for Up to Three Months

Yes, even a visitor visa for New Zealand allows you to take a short course of up to three months while you are in New Zealand. If you are from a visa-waiver country, you might not even need to apply for the visitor visa – it will be granted to you automatically upon entry to New Zealand. For more information, see Visitor Visa: Do You Need a Visa to Visit New Zealand?

Conditions of a New Zealand Visitor Visa

On the Visitor Visa, you are able to do the following:

  • Explore and travel New Zealand for up to 9 months in an 18-month period
  • Study for up to three months
  • Include a partner or dependent child in your application.

Requirements for the Visitor Visa

To be eligible for a Visitor Visa for New Zealand you must:

  • complete the Passenger Arrival Card during the flight to New Zealand
  • have a passport that is valid three months beyond the date you intend to leave New Zealand
  • have evidence for sufficient funds and onward travel (such as travel tickets, can be confirmed or open-dated, out of New Zealand)
  • stay in New Zealand for nine months or less in an 18-month period
  • have no intention of working in New Zealand
  • have sufficient funds for the duration of your stay (you need to provide evidence to show you have either NZ$1000 per month that you intend to stay in New Zealand or NZ$400 per month with evidence that you have paid-for accommodation).


Robin C.

This article was reviewed and published by Robin, the co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. He has lived, worked and travelled across 16 different countries before calling New Zealand home. He has now spent over a decade in the New Zealand tourism industry, clocking in more than 600 activities across the country. He is passionate about sharing those experiences and advice on NZ Pocket Guide and its YouTube channel. Robin is also the co-founder of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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