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Student Visa

Immigration NZ issues visas for overseas people wanting to travel or stay in New Zealand. Every international student must have a valid visa before coming to New Zealand to study.

Full details of visa requirements, advice on rights to employment in New Zealand while studying, and reporting requirements are available through Immigration NZ, and can be viewed on their website.

You should apply for a visa as soon as you have been accepted for a course of study. Contact Immigration NZ for details and documents.

A student visa is required for a course of longer than 12 weeks duration. If you are studying a 10 week English course, you may enter New Zealand on a visitor's visa. Any other course will require you to obtain a student visa before you leave home, or a student visa once you are in New Zealand.

When you arrive at the airport in New Zealand, your passport will be stamped with a student visa, providing everything is in order. While in New Zealand you must keep this visa valid. If your visa expires, you could be asked to leave the country. You must not start a course other than that stated on your visa without the permission of your institution and Immigration NZ. Advise Immigration NZ if you change your address or course of study, or if there is any other change in your circumstances.

Visas are usually issued for the length of time that your fees are paid for.

Visa application at Ara

We offer Student Visa renewals and Post Study Open Work Visa applications for students or our graduates who hold a current visa.

Student Visa

Download the Student Visa Application form and Student Visa Checklist (PDF: 0.1MB) or come and see us at the Information and Enrolments counter in the Rakaia Centre at the Madras Street campus.

Please bring the following documents with you when submitting your visa application:

  • Receipt of tuition fees paid
  • A recent New Zealand Bank statement showing balance of approximately $15,000 for a one-year visa or $7,500 for a six-month visa. Your bank statement must state your name and your current address, show three months of your most recent transactions and be less than three days old.
  • Student Visa Application form
  • Student Visa Checklist (PDF: 0.1MB)
  • $220 visa application fee
  • Your passport
  • Medical and X-Ray Certificate (if applicable)
  • Two passport-sized photos (new students only)
  • Photocopy of return air ticket or sufficient funds to purchase one. (i.e. $1,000 to $1,500)

Post Study Open Work Visa

If you are an Ara international student and have completed the qualification indicated on your student visa, but do not have a job offer, you can apply for a Post Study Open Work Visa for a maximum of 12 months.

  • To qualify for a Post Study Open Work Visa, or a Work Experience Visa, students will need to have obtained a recognised New Zealand qualification of at least two academic years (a minimum of four semesters and 16 months in total) unless they have obtained:
    • Two Skilled Migrant Category points-accruing level qualifications (level 4-6) in succession of at least one academic year (minimum of two semesters and eight months study) duration each, provided the second course is at a higher level e.g. a one-year diploma level 5 qualification followed by a one year diploma level 6 qualification, or
    • A postgraduate qualification of at least one academic year, or
    • A credit-transferred Bachelor's degree with at least one year's study in New Zealand, or
    • Any level 7 qualification of at least one academic year (including level 7 diplomas and graduate diploma programmes)
  • Have successfully completed a qualification in New Zealand that would qualify for points under the Skilled Migrant Category.
  • Apply no later than three months after the end date of the student visa for that qualification.
  • Provide evidence of a minimum of NZ$4,200 in your bank account.
  • Provide the NZQA certificate for the programme you have completed if it is a National Certificate, National Diploma, New Zealand Diploma or a New Zealand Institute of Management (NZIM) qualification.
  • These instructions do not apply to holders of Limited Purpose Visas

Immigration New Zealand policy updates

New Zealand immigration policies have recently changed with a move to attract more dedicated international students to assist with increasing productivity and innovation. See more information on the Immigration NZ website.

Key Change from 25 July 2011:

  • Students are required to attend their courses at all times, unless they have genuine reasons for their absence.
  • Progress will be primarily determined by their education provider and assessed against the education provider's own academic progress policies.
  • Students will need to satisfy Immigration New Zealand (INZ) that they are supplying genuine evidence of funds for maintenance.
  • Those who provide sponsorship and financial undertakings will be required to:
    • be either friends or relatives (if they are individuals), and
    • intend to support the student and hold sufficient funds for each student they are acting for.

In addition, more flexibility for students will be introduced by extending sponsorship eligibility to organisations or government agencies, and allowing third parties who provide financial undertakings offshore to continue with onshore applications.

The validity period of medical and police certificates for PhD students, their partners and dependants will be extended from 24 to 36 months, the same as for fee-paying foreign students.

Contact details


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