The faraway, exotic pull of New Zealand draws ever-increasing amounts of students from around the globe each year. Unless you are from Australia, before you can enjoy New Zealand’s high-quality education and endless green plains you will need to apply for and obtain a visa. Which visa you will need depends on the length of your study programme, whilst the supporting documents you’ll need to include in your application will vary depending on your specific circumstances. It might seem tricky, but with our step-by-step breakdown of the visa application process you’ll find yourself organised in no time.

Which visa will I need?

Students from Australia do NOT need a visa to enter or study in New Zealand.

If it is longer, you will need to apply for a student visa.

Student visa

If your study programme is longer than three months then you will need to apply for a student visa. You will need to do this before you enter New Zealand, and must do so by submitting your complete application (including a completed Student Visa Application form (INZ 1012)), to your nearest New Zealand embassy or consulate either by post or in person.

Some institutions offer students the chance to lodege their application for a student visa on campus once they’re arrived in New Zealand provided they are ALREADY holding a valid visa. Therefore if you are applying from your home country (which is most likely the case), then you WILL need to apply BEFORE you leave for New Zealand. You will not be able to enter the country without a valid visa.

You can find out where you will need to submit your application using the Immigration New Zealand Office and Fee Finder.

Most student visas take between 10-15 working days to process, but may take up to 10 weeks in specific circumstances. It is recommended that you submit your application five weeks before you intend to leave for New Zealand.

If you are applying for your first student visa in New Zealand, then you will need to show you will have sufficient funds to pay your tuition fees once your visa is approved. Students on exchange programmes DO NOT need to pay tuition fees.

Find your nearest New Zealand Embassy or Consulate


Whilst you will NOT need to provide proof you have insurance as part of your visa application, you WILL need to sign a declaration as part of the application form that affirms that you will have acceptable insurance for the entire duration of your studies. This is a condition of your visa and students who do not meet it risk being deported.

Student visa application form (INZ 1012)

You can download this form from the Immigration New Zealand website or visit a New Zealand embassy or consulate and ask for one in person.

At the end of the form you will have the option to either have your supporting documents posted to you, or go to the relevant office and pick them up yourself. You will also need to nominate a payment method for your application fee. If you’re paying the fee by card then you will also need to fill in the details of the particular card you used. After you pay the fee, you’ll need to keep the receipt and include it in your complete application.

Which documents will I need?

To complete the visa application form, you will need the following documents and information:

Two colour, passport-sized photographs that are less than six months old. You will need to paste these onto the form.

Personal information and passport details

Previous employment information, including dates and job details

Medical information including illness history and details of any conditions or medical requirements you have

Immigration history, including previous countries you have lived in and visited

Character information such as details of any criminal history or refusal of entry into another country

Details of your study programme and host institution, including commencement and completion dates

Information on how you will financially support yourself when you study in New Zealand (you will need to attach supporting documents to verify this as part of your complete application)

Information on how you will pay your application fee, including the method of payment (i.e. by card or cheque), and the specific details of the card you used if you paid by credit or debit card.

A return air ticket to your home country, or evidence that you have enough money to buy one

To apply for a student visa, you will need to include the following documents in your application:

A completed Student Visa Application Form (INZ 1012)

Visa application fee

A valid passport

Two passport-sized, colour photographs

Medical or chest x-ray certificates, ONLY if your study programme is longer than six months

Police certificate acting as a character reference (if applicable),

Letter of acceptance from your host institution

Receipt of the payment of your tuition fees

A police certificate from your home country and any other country you have lived in for five or more years since the age of 17, ONLY if your study programme is longer than 24 months

Proof that you will have access to enough funds to support yourself for the duration of your study programme: if your study programme is less than 36 weeks, you will need to NZ$1,250 (US$1,083) for each month of study, and if it is longer than you will need to provide NZ$15,000 (US$12,996) for each year of study. If you are providing bank statements in your name the account needs to be at least six months old. You may also need to provide evidence of the source of funds for any deposits into your account over NZ$1000 (US$866).


You will need to pay your application fee before you apply for a student visa as you need to include the receipt of payment in your complete application. Fees vary depending on your home country and the nature of your study programme. You can find out what you’ll need to pay in application fees, as well as the details of the office you’ll need to pay them to using the Immigration New Zealand Office and Fee Finder.

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