Can I study in New Zealand?

The following information has been taken from the Immigration new Zealand web site and provides hyperlinks to further information and data.

Everyone who comes to study in New Zealand from overseas must meet certain rules and requirements. If you are coming to New Zealand to study for more than three months, you will need a student visa. In this section you can find out whether you need a visa, whether you'll qualify, and what a student visa will allow you to do.

People who do not need a student visa

You don’t need a visa if you are a citizen of New Zealand or Australia, you hold a New Zealand residence class visa, or you are the holder of a current Australian permanent residence visa including a current Australian resident return visa. If there are conditions on your Australian permanent residence visa or resident return visa, then you will need to apply for a student visa.

People undertaking short courses

If you want to undertake one or more short courses which are approved or exempted by New Zealand Qualifications Authorityfor no more than three calendar months duration in total, you do not need a student visa or a variation of conditions.

If you hold a temporary visa that is valid for 24 months or more, you can study one or more courses for up to three months in total in each 12-month period.

School-age children

School-age visitor visa holders can attend a primary, intermediate, or secondary school for a single period of study of up to three months per calendar year provided the study finishes within the calendar year. School-age visitor visa holders are not permitted to study in term one of a school year if they undertook a single period of study in term four of the previous year while on a visitor visa.

If you are planning to attend for more than two weeks or are paying fees, you must attend a school that is a signatory to the Ministry of Education's Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students.

To be considered a domestic student the child must hold a student visa.

*If you are an exchange student who will be studying in New Zealand for less than three months under a reciprocal exchange scheme managed by an Exchange Programme Organisation, you are not required to attend a school that is a signatory to the Ministry of Education's Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students.

Working Holiday Schemes

Participants of working holiday schemes may undertake one or more courses of study as long as the total duration of all of the courses undertaken does not exceed three or six months depending on the scheme. The length of course allowed under each scheme is on each scheme’s webpage.

Exchange students

If you have been offered a place in an approved exchange scheme you may apply for a student visa for the duration of your exchange, provided you meet our health and character requirements and are a genuine exchange participant.

You must also provide evidence that you:

You must apply for a student exchange visa before you travel to New Zealand. Only in very special circumstances (as determined by Immigration New Zealand) will a student exchange visa be granted if you are already in New Zealand.

Pathway Student Visa pilot

If you intend to study more than one course while in New Zealand you may wish to consider applying for a pathway student visa. The Pathway Student Visa pilot allows international students to undertake a progression of up to three consecutive programmes of study with qualifying education providers on a single visa. For example, three consecutive years at secondary school or a pathway of an English language course, then a foundation course, followed by a degree programme.

English language requirements

In April 2015 the New Zealand Qualifications Authority proposed changes to the English language requirements for international students that are set out in Rule 18 of the NZQF Programme Approval and Accreditation Rules. The changes took effect on 24 October 2015.

From 24 October 2015, providers are no longer able to use internal testing or evidence of prior primary and secondary school study in English to assess proficiency for students from countries with a student visa decline rate of more than 20 per cent, as measured by Immigration New Zealand.

This restriction applies to students who “hold passports from one of those countries” and are “applying to Immigration New Zealand for their first student visa.”

The rates are calculated using fee paying and scholarship student visa applicants applying offshore for a student visa.

See the 2015 student visa approval rate [PDF 217KB]

See the 2014 student visa approval rate [PDF 70KB] 

A FAQ document can be found on the New Zealand Qualifications Authority website.

The requirements for a student visa

Before you apply, ensure that you understand the requirements that you need to meet, and the requirements that your programme of study (or course) must meet.

Also see our examples to make sure you will be eligible for a visa to study in New Zealand.

What a student visa allows

Find out how long you can stay, whether you can work while studying, who we will refuse entry to, and answers to other questions about student visas.

Partners and children of residence and temporary entry class visa holders

If your partner or parent is in New Zealand and you want to join them here and study, the type of visa you may apply for may depend on factors such as your partner or parent's immigration status.


If you're sure you need a student visa, and you meet the requirements, find out how to apply.

Children unlawfully in New Zealand accessing compulsory education

If your child is unlawfully in New Zealand and you wish to access education for them under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC) you may wish to view Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employments' FAQs on this subject.

ge Last Updated: 28 Jan 2016