Working while on a student visa
You can usually work up to 20 hours a week during term time, and full time over the holidays.
Find out how COVID-19 affects student visa holders and their education providers.
Who can work on a student visa
The visa in your passport will tell you if you can work, when and for how long.
If you’re a tertiary student
You can work up to 20 hours a week if you’re studying full time and:
- your course is at least 2 years long, or
- you’re studying for a qualification that gives you points towards an application for a Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa.
If you have to complete work experience as part of your training, this is additional to part-time work of 20 hours a week.
If you’re studying full time, you can work full time:
- over the Christmas and New Year holidays
- during the scheduled breaks — for example, between semesters.
Your course is full time if it lasts for at least:
- 1 academic year and gives you 120 credits or more, or
- 2 semesters over 8 months or more.
If you’re studying for a Masters degree by research or a PhD
Masters by research and PhD students can work as many hours as they like.
If you’re an English language student
If your course is 6 months or longer
You can work up to 20 hours each week if:
- you’re studying full time
- the main reason for your study is to improve your English
- you have an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) certificate with an overall band score of 5.0 that’s no more than 2 years old — you’ll need to provide this with your application.
If your course is 14 weeks or longer
You can work up to 20 hours each week if you’re studying English language full time at a university or a high quality education provider.
If your course is less than 14 weeks
You may be able to work if you’ve:
- studied English on a previous student visa
- your new course follows on from the previous one, and
- it’s with the same education provider.
If you’re studying at high school
Secondary school students in years 12 and 13 can work up to 20 hours a week during the school year and full-time in the Christmas and New Year holiday period.
If you’re under 18, you’ll need letters giving you permission to work from:
- your school, and
- your parent or legal guardian.
Work you cannot do
International students are not allowed to be self-employed. You must work for an employer and have an employment agreement.
You cannot provide commercial sexual services. This means you cannot:
- work as a prostitute
- operate a New Zealand prostitution business
- invest in a prostitution business.
If you work when you’re not allowed
You may have to leave New Zealand if you work when you’re not allowed to.
Getting a tax number
If you intend to work, apply for an IRD number from Inland Revenue after you get your visa. You give this number to your employer when you start work and use it for all of your New Zealand tax matters.