Frequently Asked Questions

Scroll through this list of visa FAQs to find answers to the most important questions about your visa.

Student visa questions - all international students

What is a student visa?

A student visa is an endorsement by Immigration New Zealand and associated with your passport number that allows you to enter and be in New Zealand for the purpose of studying.
It has to state the correct programme of study and education provider you are enrolled at.

How can I apply for my student visa?

Visit Visa information with step-by-step instructions on how to submit your student visa application. All visa applications must be submitted directly to Immigration New Zealand.

How long will it take for my student visa application to be processed?

You can find out more under How long it takes to process a visa application.

If you are outside of New Zealand, Immigration New Zealand recommends to apply for your student visa at least eight weeks before your intended travel date. If you want to apply early, they recommend approximately four months before intended travel, but no earlier (to avoid your documents becoming out of date).

How many points do I need to be enrolled in to be eligible for a student visa?

You must be enrolled in at least three courses (or a minimum of 45 points) per semester, to be eligible for a student visa.

Important notice when applying for a student visa for Semester Two 2023
Due to enrolments for the 2024 academic year not opening until 1 November 2023, you will only be able to enrol in Semester Two 2023. Therefore you should double the amount of tuition fees you are required to pay for the second semester 2023, to meet Immigration New Zealand requirements of paying fees for a whole year.

I hold a student visa in New Zealand and would like to study online. Can I do this?

No. If you are in New Zealand then you must be enrolled in at least 3 on campus courses (or a minimum of 45 points) per semester to meet your student visa requirements.

I am in my final semester/quarter of study and I only have one or two courses (or less than 45 points) left to complete my programme. Will I be eligible for a student visa?

If you are in your final semester and only have one or two courses left to complete your programme, you will still be eligible for a student visa (this rule exception is permitted only once).

If this is your situation then you can still apply for a student visa but you will be required to submit an additional form with your application. 

When do I need to submit my student visa application?

If you are a new student travelling to New Zealand to study, you should apply for your visa at least 2-3 months before your intended travel date to New Zealand. You won’t be able to board your flight without a visa.

If you currently hold a student visa for your programme of study at the University of Auckland (UoA) you have to submit your visa application at least one month before your current visa expires.

If you currently hold another temporary class visa (eg: work visa or a student visa issued for another institution) you should apply well in advance of commencing your studies at UoA as you will have to show proof of your UoA student visa by the first day of the term you are enrolled in.

What happens if Immigration New Zealand doesn’t process my application before my current visa expires?

If your new student visa is not issued before your current one expires, Immigration New Zealand will automatically issue an interim visa which is valid for six months or until your new visa is issued (whichever comes first). An interim visa permits you to be in New Zealand and continue your studies.

How do I obtain a confirmation of enrolment?

You have to request a "Confirmation of current enrolment" letter from the University. Allow at least 7 working days for the letter to be generated.

What happens to my student visa if I withdraw or drop my enrolment?

To be eligible for a student visa you need to be enrolled in at least 3 courses (or 45 points) per semester. If you drop/withdraw courses and fall below this threshold, the University will inform Immigration New Zealand and your student visa will be terminated. Please check with us first if you have any concerns.

Will it affect my student visa if I change my study programme?

Yes. If you change your programme of study (e.g. for changing your programme from a Bachelor of Arts to Bachelor of Commerce), you will also need to apply for a new student visa so it states the new programme of study). Find detailed information under Visa implications when changing the programme of study.

Please note that this does not apply if you change your major.

Can I use the funds in my bank account if my visa application is still being assessed?

Yes, you should use your funds to maintain yourself. If this means using the funds you presented for your visa application then you can do this. If Immigration New Zealand requests an updated bank statement at a later stage, then they would just want to see you still have sufficient funds to support yourself for the remaining time of the intended visa period.

Postgraduate students and PhD students

I am a doctoral candidate who is about to complete and submit my thesis. What happens to my enrolment after the submission?

Your enrolment will finish once you have submitted your thesis. At this point you are eligible to apply for a Post-study work visa.

I am a Masters student who is about to complete and submit my thesis. What happens to my enrolment during the examination period?

If you are a Masters research student completing a thesis of 90 points or more Thesis under submission enrolment which will then allow you to apply for a student visa to cover the examination period and remain lawfully in New Zealand. This enrolment will not incur any tuition fees, but an insurance charge will be added to cover this period which you will have to pay.

I am a doctoral candidate and I need to suspend my enrolment for more than 3 months. Will this affect my student visa?

Yes, a suspension of more than three months will impact your student visa. Please contact our team for more information.

I am a doctoral candidate on suspension and my student visa is about to expire. Can I apply for a new student visa?

No, you need to be enrolled to be eligible for a student visa.

I need to undertake an internship as part of my programme. Am I allowed to work full time while on my student visa?

If it is a compulsory requirement for the programme, you can apply for a student visa endorse full-time work condition with your faculty’s confirmation letter.

I am enrolled in a programme that is taught in quarters. How can I apply for a full-year visa in Quarter Four?

To find out more: Applying for a visa in Quarter Four 2023.

Post-study work visa questions

Can I apply for a post-study work visa?

If you have an acceptable qualification that you completed in New Zealand, you can apply for a visa to work here. Depending on your qualification and where you studied, you can work between one and three years and do almost any work.
To be eligible to apply for a post-study work visa you must have studied full-time in New Zealand for a minimum of 30 weeks in the relevant programme.

Post-study work visa

When can I apply for a post-study work visa?

If you have completed all components of your programme in an acceptable qualification (see above) and you are eligible to graduate (i.e. your grades are confirmed and your Student Services Online account shows “Eligible to graduate”) you can commence the visa application process. You will need to request an “Eligibility to graduate” letter from the University’s Records office:

How to request your certified digital transcript or official letter

How would the post-study work visa requirement of full-time study for at least 30 weeks in New Zealand be calculated?

The 30 weeks of full-time study on a student visa in New Zealand calculation includes study breaks and examination periods. It excludes holiday periods such as inter-semester and mid-semester breaks.

Questions relating to other visa types

What is a Variation of Condition (VOC)?

Temporary visas such as work, student or visitor visas are granted with conditions telling you what you are allowed to do while you’re on the visa. These conditions can be things like working in a particular job or studying at a particular education provider.

If your visa conditions no longer match your circumstances, you may be able to apply to change your conditions. We call this a variation of conditions. However, in some situations, you may need to apply for a new visa instead.

Changing the conditions of a temporary visa

I would like to study part-time on my work or visitor visa. What do I need to do?

If you would like to study part-time on another temporary visa, in most cases you will need to apply for a VOC (see above). However, please contact Immigration New Zealand for advice on your individual situation.

My work visa or visitor visa states that I can study for three months at any education provider. Can I start my study on this visa and then swap to a student visa later?

No, you cannot start your studies on another temporary visa, unless you have a VOC.

Can I enter New Zealand on a visitor visa and then apply for my student visa when I’m in the country?

If you study a programme that is longer than three months in total (this applies to most University programmes), you should wait to enter New Zealand on the appropriate student visa. While potential students can apply for a student visa from within New Zealand, if you travel to New Zealand visa-waiver or on a visitor visa with the intent of applying onshore, you may not be considered a genuine visitor. Also, you will not be able to start your studies until you have a visa with the appropriate study conditions, which may mean a delay and issues with access to university services.


What should I do if my visa has expired?

You are not allowed to stay after your visa expires. You should depart New Zealand by the expiry date of your visa or apply for a new visa before your current one expires.

If your visa has expired, you need to submit a visa request under Section 61 through Immigration New Zealand. If you are unlawfully in New Zealand you are not allowed to work or study.

Is my passport acceptable for travel to New Zealand?

There are rules regarding how long your passport must be valid for in order to be acceptable. In the case of people coming to New Zealand temporarily (including visitors, students, and workers), the passport must be valid either:

  • for at least 3 months beyond the date you intend to depart New Zealand, or
  • for one month beyond the date you intend to depart New Zealand if the issuing government has consular representation in New Zealand that is able to issue and renew travel documents (you should check with your issuing authority before travelling).

Can I use a certified copy instead of the original for the visa application? Who can certify copies of my documents?

When submitting a paper visa application you can provide a certified copy of your passport or certificate of identity in place of your original passport.
Immigration staff will still request your original passport if it is required to process your visa application (for example, for identity confirmation or visa label issuing).

Certified copies must be stamped or endorsed as true copies of the originals by a person authorised by law to take statutory declarations in your country.

In New Zealand, this person may be a lawyer, notary public, Justice of the Peace, court official or New Zealand Police Officer of a certain rank.

Refer here to where you can locate these officials in New Zealand.

What kind of work am I NOT allowed to undertake while on a student visa?

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.

Check Working on a student visa for detailed information.

More information

In case you cannot find the answer to your questions on these pages, please contact Immigration New Zealand for more information or one of our International Student Advisers.