Can I study in New Zealand?

Everyone who comes to study in New Zealand from overseas must meet certain rules and requirements. If you are coming to New Zealand to study for more than three months, you will need a student visa. 

Read on to find out whether you need a visa, whether you'll qualify, and what a student visa will allow you to do.

People who do not need a student visa

You don’t need a visa if you are a citizen of New Zealand or Australia, you hold a New Zealand residence class visa, or you are the holder of a current Australian permanent residence visa including a current Australian resident return visa. If there are conditions on your Australian permanent residence visa or resident return visa, then you will need to apply for a student visa.

People undertaking short courses

If you want to undertake one or more short courses which are approved or exempted by New Zealand Qualifications Authorityfor no more than three calendar months duration in total, you do not need a student visa or a variation of conditions.

If you hold a temporary visa that is valid for 24 months or more, you can study one or more courses for up to three months in total in each 12-month period.

School-age children

School-age visitor visa holders can attend a primary, intermediate, or secondary school for a single period of study of up to three months per calendar year provided the study finishes within the calendar year. School-age visitor visa holders are not permitted to study in term one of a school year if they undertook a single period of study in term four of the previous year while on a visitor visa.

If you are planning to attend for more than two weeks or are paying fees, you must attend a school that is a signatory to the Ministry of Education's Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students.

To be considered a domestic student the child must hold a student visa.

*If you are an exchange student who will be studying in New Zealand for less than three months under a reciprocal exchange scheme managed by an Exchange Programme Organisation, you are not required to attend a school that is a signatory to the Ministry of Education's Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students.

Working Holiday Schemes

Participants of working holiday schemes may undertake one or more courses of study as long as the total duration of all of the courses undertaken does not exceed three or six months 
depending on the scheme.  The length of course allowed under each scheme is on each scheme’swebpage.

Exchange students

If you have been offered a place in an approved exchange scheme you may apply for a student visa for the duration of your exchange, provided you meet our health andcharacter requirements and are a genuine exchange participant.
You must also provide evidence that you:
  • have been accepted into an approved student exchange scheme (from the scheme organiser), and
  • have onward travel arrangements for when your exchange scheme has finished.
You must apply for a student exchange visa before you travel to New Zealand. Only in very special circumstances (as determined by Immigration New Zealand) will a student exchange visa be granted if you are already in New Zealand.

The requirements for a student visa

Before you apply, ensure that you understand the requirements that you need to meet, and the requirements that your programme of study (or course) must meet.

Also see our examples to make sure you will be eligible for a visa to study in New Zealand.

What a student visa allows

Find out how long you can stay, whether you can work while studying, who we will refuse entry to, and answers to other questions about student visas.

Partners and children of residence and temporary entry class visa holders

If your partner or parent is in New Zealand and you want to join them here and study, the type of visa you may apply for may depend on factors such as your partner or parent's immigration status.


If you're sure you need a student visa, and you meet the requirements, find out how to apply.

Children unlawfully in New Zealand accessing compulsory education

If your child is unlawfully in New Zealand and you wish to access education for them under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC) you may wish to view Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employments's FAQs on this subject


Skill Shortage List Check

Do you want to know if your current occupation or role is in the Shortage List or other relevant list? Try this checker from Immigration New Zealand.

If your occupation is not listed, don't be disheartened. There are other work, resident, student and holiday visas that might be right for you.