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When you need an NZ student visa

You need a student visa if you want to study full time in New Zealand for more than 3 months.

Find out how COVID-19 affects student visa holders and their education providers.

Student visa and COVID-19 information — Immigration NZ

You must be accepted into a course with an approved educational provider, such as a school, university or polytechnic, before you apply for a student visa.

The only exceptions to this are the dependent children of people who are applying for, or already hold a work visa or a student visa.

What you can study

You can only study on programmes that the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) has approved for international students.

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Types of student visa

There are 3 main visas that let you study full time. There are also student visas for people from specific countries or people coming here to study for a specific reason.

Explore visa options to study

1. If you’re taking a single course

A Fee Paying Student Visa lets you study for up to 4 years on an approved course.

Visa factsheet: Fee Paying Student Visa

2. If you’re taking several courses

A Pathway Student Visa lets you study as many as 3 courses one after another for up to 5 years with an approved provider — for example, secondary school studies followed by study towards a bachelor’s degree.

Visa factsheet: Pathway Student Visa

3. If you’re in NZ and want your children to study here

A Dependent Child Student Visa is for the children (19 or younger) of people who are in New Zealand on some student or work visas.

Visa factsheet: Dependent Child Student Visa

Work visa holder supporting family — who can and who cannot

Studying on other visas

Studying on a visitor visa

You may be able to study on a visitor visa if:

  • your course is 3 months or less, or
  • you plan to study part time for up to 9 months, as long as you apply to vary the conditions of your visa first.

Studying on a work visa

You may be able to study on a work visa if:

  • your course is 3 months or less, or
  • your employer needs you to do some study as part of your job.

All visa options to study

Students who do not need a visa

You do not need a student visa to study if:

  • you’re an NZ citizen or resident
  • you’re an Australian citizen
  • you have a permanent resident visa for Australia — without conditions.

What full-time study means

You’re studying full time if you:

  • attend primary or secondary school
  • enroll for at least 3 papers (or equivalent) each semester at a tertiary institution such as a university or polytechnic, or
  • study on a course at a private training establishment (PTE):
    • for at least 20 hours a week, or
    • if the course is Level 7 or above on the New Zealand Qualification Framework, you take at least 3 papers (or equivalent) each semester.

Understanding New Zealand qualifications

You cannot normally study part-time on a student visa. You might be able to if, for example, you’re completing a qualification that you’ll use to get points towards applying for a Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa.

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