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Visas and Immigration

One of the most important things that you need to know before you go into New Zealand is how you can get your visa. Of course, you have to make sure that you are accepted to the university that you choose before you can even start applying for a student visa. But, here are some of the things that you need to know.

Limitations of Student Visas

If you are a full time student, then you are given a student visa as long as your tuition is paid, which lasts for one school year. If the program is based on the New Zealand year (instead of the year that you will see in the northern hemisphere), your student visa will expire at the end of March of the following year, to allow you time to stay.

There are ways to get around this, of course. You can study with a particular education program that has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Immigration office, which will allow you to apply for a visa that lasts as long as your program is going. You can also apply for scholarship(s) through the university you are attending; if you receive one of these, then your visa will last as long as the scholarship does (up to four years).

Many times, you have to be a full time student in order to apply for a visa, but part-time students can too. If you are coming to the country for one school year (9 months) and meet all of the visitor requirements as set by the government, or if you are finishing a degree program during your part time semester that will help you become a “skilled migrant” as defined by the immigration department, then you can apply for a student visa as a part-time student.

Who will not be approved for a student visa?

As we mention in our “Why Study in New Zealand” section, most people who apply for student visas will receive them. Of course, there are exceptions to this, but there are very few. Here’s a brief list.

  • If you have been convicted of a crime that led to jail time for five years or more ever; or, if in the past 10 years, you were imprisoned for a year or more.
  • You have to go under prohibition when entering New Zealand.
  • If you have ever been deported or excluded from a country.
  • If you are considered a terrorist or a terroristic threat that will risk security, order, or public interest.
  • If you are currently in New Zealand illegally, and they know about it.
  • If there is specific health issues or character issues that you have, which are determined by the immigration department upon your application. Character issues can include trying to stay in the country illegally or breaching your visa conditions.

You can also lose the right to have your student visa. You will then be deported. This could be if you don’t attend classes, you work more than your visa allows (we will discuss work restrictions in our working while studying section), if you switch your program without contacting the immigration office, or your funding stops for some reason.

How to Apply

There are a number of different visas that you can end up applying for, but they all have the same process. Here is a basic, step-by-step layout of the process.

  • You have to fill out an application, which you can find on the immigration website here.
  • You need to get any and all medical certificates required by the government, which you will see on the application or the visa guide.
  • If you live in Australia or New Zealand, you don’t need a visa.
  • You need to meet any and all requirements set by your school.
  • There are a number of requirements that you have to meet in order to get approved for your visa. You have to get an offer of place or confirmation of enrollment (the latter is for those who already have a visa and need it to be renewed. You need to provide evidence of funding and that you plan to leave, and have a passport that extends at least three months after your stay will be ending. Learn more here.

If you need more information about the visas and immigration requirements that New Zealand has, then contact the New Zealand immigration office. They have all of the information that you need. You can also get help with the paperwork from the international office of the university that you are looking to attend. Your international office does this with hundreds of students every single year, so they will help you with all of the ins and outs of the system.

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