April 5, 2024

Navigating the New Zealand Student Visa Process: A Complete Checklist

Securing a New Zealand student visa is a crucial step to undertake before commencing your studies in the country.

New Zealand stands out as a highly sought-after destination among students. Its breath-taking landscapes, vibrant cities, welcoming locals, and abundant educational and employment prospects make it an excellent choice for higher education.

However, it is essential to meticulously complete your visa application to proceed with your studies in New Zealand. Although this process may initially appear overwhelming, by following specific steps and planning, you can navigate the visa application smoothly and effortlessly.

We aim to ensure that you can accomplish this with utmost simplicity and efficiency. To assist you with your visa application, we have compiled a comprehensive step-by-step guide below, tailored to meet all your needs.

What is a New Zealand student visa and its different types?

A New Zealand student visa is an official government document that grants permission to international students to enter the country to pursue their studies.

There are several options available for student visas in New Zealand, depending on the course duration and the payment method.

  1. Fee-paying student visa: This visa is required for international students enrolling in a full-term course lasting more than three months at a New Zealand university. It allows for part-time work during school weeks and full-time work during holidays.
  2. Pathway student visa: This visa allows students to pursue multiple consecutive full-term courses. Students can select up to three courses and stay in New Zealand for a maximum of five years to complete them.
  3. Exchange student visa: This visa is for students who plan to participate in a pre-approved student exchange program at a recognized New Zealand university. The course duration for this visa can be up to four years.
  4. Foreign government-supported student visa: This visa applies to students studying a full-time course lasting more than three months but less than four years, with their educational expenses being covered by a scholarship or loan from a foreign government.

Note: If the course duration is less than three months, a student visa may not be required, and a visitor visa can be used instead.

How can one apply for a New Zealand student visa?

  1. Preparations: Once you receive a course offer from a university, start planning and preparing. Request an application form, either in person at a New Zealand embassy or complete it online. Apply at least eight weeks before your planned arrival, and gather all necessary documents and certificates in advance.
  2. Payment of fees: Typically, the New Zealand student visa costs NZD 375. 
  3. Understand the requirements: Familiarise yourself with the requirements for a New Zealand student visa. This includes having a formal academic offer from an approved educational institution, providing evidence of payment for tuition fees, demonstrating sufficient funds to cover living expenses, and fulfilling other specific requirements such as medical certificates and accommodation guarantees.
  4. Application Process: Complete the application form accurately and provide all requested documents. Address any potential issues, such as criminal convictions, as early as possible. Be prepared for an interview, where you may be asked questions about your studies and plans.
  5. Await the decision: The processing time for a New Zealand student visa is typically four to five weeks. Make sure to apply with ample time before your course starts. If additional information is needed, the New Zealand Immigration Department will contact you. Once approved, you may receive an eVisa or request a label on your passport.

It is advisable to consult additional resources and checklists provided by New Zealand Immigration to ensure a smooth and successful visa application process.

The Ultimate Checklist for Your New Zealand Student Visa

Before initiating your New Zealand visa application, ensure that you possess the following documents. Neglecting to provide these items can cause delays in the application process and leave limited time to rectify any errors that may arise.

Therefore, it is advisable to prepare these documents promptly upon receiving your university offer.

  1. A valid passport that remains valid for at least three months beyond the completion of your course.
  2. Two passport-size photographs depicting your head and shoulders.
  3. A letter of acceptance from a university authorised by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority.
  4. A character reference letter issued by the police department in your home country.
  5. Bank statements that substantiate your financial capability to cover tuition fees and support yourself during your studies. The evidence could include a receipt of payment of your tuition fees, money held by you or on your behalf, a letter from your education provider confirming your tuition fee payment, or that you are exempted from paying your tuition fee with an appropriate reason. 
  6. You should be able to show that you can cover your living expenses in New Zealand as an international student. The evidence should include the money you have or is held on your behalf. Or, you can provide proof of the notice of a full scholarship awarded to you, a financial undertaking by a non-New Zealander, or sponsorship by a New Zealander. 
  7. Medical examination reports verifying your health condition and testing for contagious diseases.
  8. Medical insurance documents providing evidence of coverage for the entire duration of your stay.

New Zealand has become a great study destination 

Based on data from Stats New Zealand, the primary government data agency in the country, New Zealand has achieved a remarkably low unemployment rate of 3.4 per cent. 

Additionally, the country provides post-study work opportunities that extend up to three years. Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand, boasts a diverse population, with 39 per cent comprising individuals from various parts of the world, creating a vibrant melting pot of global cultures.

New Zealand universities undergo regular audits conducted by the government to maintain the standard of education.

  • The education system of New Zealand has achieved the top ranking globally.
  • New Zealand universities follow the esteemed British model of delivering excellent education.
  • The teacher-to-student ratio at universities is 6:7, facilitating effective communication between students and tutors.
  • In addition to the conventional course curriculum, New Zealand universities are renowned for imparting both practical and academic knowledge to students.

New Zealand also offers its residents a serene and pleasant environment, contributing to an exceptional quality of life. The country is known for its inclusive atmosphere, where individuals from diverse backgrounds can comfortably settle in.

The standard of living in New Zealand is notably high, with clean air that ranks among the best globally. The country’s commitment to environmental health surpasses that of many other prosperous nations.

Furthermore, New Zealand places significant emphasis on developing its public transportation infrastructure. Buses serve as the primary mode of transportation across the country, featuring a well-organised network and modern, clean vehicles. The government has even allocated NZ$50 million in subsidies to support councils in achieving complete decarbonization of their public buses by 2035.

If you want to know about your chances of studying abroad in New Zealand, connect with us today at Expert Education.

  • How long does it take to obtain a New Zealand student visa?

The New Zealand student visa usually takes 8 to 10  weeks to process.

  • Is IELTS necessary for a New Zealand student visa?

New Zealand is home to many universities that do not require IELTS. Instead, if you have already studied in an English medium school in your home country, you could present a certificate that proves the same. However, you are still free to take IELTS if you wish to. Also, an English language test requirement is based on the country from which the student applies. Alternatively, there are other tests you can take to study in New Zealand. These include TOEFL, PTE, NZCEL (New Zealand Certificate in the English Language), CPE (Cambridge English: Proficiency), and CAE (Cambridge English: Advanced).

  • Is a study gap accepted in New Zealand?

In New Zealand, you can apply to universities even after a 10-year gap. However, during the gap years, you may have to provide credible information about your activities done during the tenure of your study gap.

  • What to do if my New Zealand visa is refused?

If you have been denied entry to New Zealand but still intend to travel there, you can get in touch with the Immigration Contact Centre for guidance. Depending on your situation, you might need to apply for a visa before attempting to travel to New Zealand again.