Information about Exchange Student Visa

If you’re outside New Zealand and have been accepted into an approved student exchange scheme, you can study full-time in New Zealand. While you’re here, you can enjoy New Zealand’s high-quality teaching standards and gain internationally recognised qualifications.



Length of stay

Up to 4 years depending on the length of your exchange

You can

  • Study full-time in New Zealand in a school-to-school exchange, an exchange programme organisation scheme or a tertiary exchange.
  • Work part-time up to 20 hours a week while studying or full-time in the holidays, depending on your age and how long your study is for.

Things to note

  • You can only apply if you’re outside of New Zealand.
  • You don’t have to pay tuition fees, as you’re considered a domestic student.
  • Student exchange schemes may include school-to-school (or sister school exchanges), exchanges organised by exchange programme organisations and tertiary exchanges.

Meeting the criteria

The criteria and evidence below will provide you with the information you need to meet the requirements.

Use the filters to display country specific tips, under evidence, to assist you with your application

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You must provide proof of your identity

  • 1 acceptable photo if you apply online, or 2 photos if you use a paper application form.
  • your passport or certificate of identity.

Acceptable photos

If you submit a paper application, provide your original passport or a certified copy.  We can usually process your application faster if you provide your original passport.

If you apply online, you must upload a copy of your passport when you apply. We will let you know if you need to send your passport after you've applied.

Sending your passport for online applications

Also provide your Kartu Keluarga.

If you’re not a French national, also provide a copy of your carte d’assuré.

Even if your partner and children aren’t coming with you, please also provide:

  • copies of their passports
  • a copy of your livret de famille.

Also provide a copy of your livret de famille.

Also provide a copy of your Identity card.

Also provide your:

  • Hukou (household registration book)
  • Chinese identity card.

If you are submitting a paper application form, you must provide a supplementary form for Hong Kong and Macao visitors, workers and students.

Supplementary form for Hong Kong and Macao visitors, workers and students (INZ 1220) PDF 322KB

If you are a citizen of China and you submit a paper application form in China, you must also complete a supplementary form.

Supplementary form for Chinese citizens (INZ 1027) PDF 306KB


You must be in good health

You may need to have a chest x-ray, a medical examination or both as proof of your good health.

Who needs an x-ray or medical examination

You must provide a chest x-ray completed in the last 3 months, even if you've provided one to us previously, if:

  • you have spent 6 consecutive months in China since the last x-ray certificate was issued, and
  • you are now coming to NZ for more than 6 months.


You must be of good character

You may need to provide police certificates as proof of your good character.

If you are aged 17 or older and plan to stay in New Zealand for more than 24 months (including any time you have already spent in New Zealand), you must provide police certificates from:

  • any country you are a citizen of
  • any country you have spent more than 5 years in since you turned 17.

You do not need to provide police certificates if:

  • you have provided them to us with an earlier visa application, and
  • they were issued in the previous 24 months.

Good character

How to get a police certificate

Approved exchange scheme

You must show that you’ve been accepted to an approved student exchange scheme

You must provide evidence that you’ve been accepted into an approved student exchange scheme. For example, a letter from the scheme organiser.

The Study Abroad program is a not a an approved student exchange scheme.

If you are coming as part of the Study Abroad program, you should a apply for a fee paying student visa.
Fee Paying Student visa

Permission to work

If you're aged 16 or 17, or in years 12 or 13 of secondary school, you must have written permission to work

Permission to work up to 20 hours a week and/or full-time in the summer holidays from each of the following:

You don’t need written permission if you‘re 18 years of age or over and at secondary school, and want to work during the summer holiday period.

We won’t grant work rights to children under 16 who have a Student Visa.

Full-time vacation work rights

You must provide information about your holidays and your course

If you’re allowed to work full-time in the holidays, proof:

  • of the holidays scheduled by your approved education provider, as shown in your offer of place document
  • that your course value is 120 credits – this information may be on your fee receipt or invoice, or other correspondence provided by your approved education provider.

Practical experience (optional)

If you’re required to do practical work experience as part of your course, you must provide evidence that it’s a course requirement

Evidence can include either of the following:

  • a letter from your approved education provider
  • a course outline that shows the practical component requirement, as shown in your offer of place document.


You must be outside of New Zealand when you apply

We’ll check our records, to make sure you’re not already in New Zealand.

If you’re already in New Zealand, we can only grant this visa in very special circumstances.

Onward travel

You must have made arrangements to leave New Zealand

Evidence can include: 

  • a travel ticket out of New Zealand
  • a guarantee from your student exchange scheme’s New Zealand guarantor that even if you don’t complete your exchange, they’ll make arrangements for you to leave New Zealand at the end of your stay.


The information below will help you understand the process so you can plan ahead and have the best chance of submitting a complete application.

Fees & receiving centre

Fees & receiving centre

The information below will help you understand the process, timeframes and costs involved in applying for this visa, so you can plan ahead and have the best chance of submitting a complete application.



These are the conditions that you must meet once you have your visa.

Entry permission

You must apply for entry permission when you arrive in New Zealand. You can do this by completing an arrival card, which you are given on the way to New Zealand.

Arriving in New Zealand

You can be refused entry permission if:

  • you do not meet our character requirements
  • your circumstances have changed since you were granted a visa
  • you refuse to let us take your photo or to provide us with your fingerprints or an iris scan, if asked for them
  • you are unable to provide evidence of any onward travel or funds required by the conditions of your visa.

If you are refused entry to New Zealand

Before you travel to New Zealand

Onward travel

You must have a travel ticket or a guarantee from your New Zealand Student Exchange Scheme organiser that they’ll arrange for you to leave at the end of your stay.

You may be asked for evidence of your travel arrangements when you check in or arrive in New Zealand.  If you’re not required to provide evidence, we’ll record it in your visa label or visa letter.


If your student exchange scheme is for one academic year or more, you can work part-time for up to 20 hours a week and full-time during all scheduled holidays.

If you’re 16 or 17, or in year 12 or 13 at secondary school, you must have written permission to work from your parents, school and Exchange Provider Organisation. If you’re 18 or over you don’t need permission to work in the summer holidays.

Practical experience

You’re allowed to work, to meet a requirement of practical experience for your programme of study in New Zealand, if practical experience is a course requirement.

Everyone who has a job in New Zealand pays tax on what they earn. You can apply for an IRD number online through Inland Revenue.

Apply online for an IRD number

You aren’t allowed to be self-employed. You have to work as an employee with an employment agreement and not as an independent contractor.

You can’t provide commercial sexual services or operate a business that provides these services.

We won’t grant work rights to children under 16 who have a Student Visa.

Attendance and progress

You must study full-time and attend your course at the approved education provider noted on your visa, unless you have a reasonable excuse for absences.

You must make satisfactory progress on your course.

Visa expiry

You can stay in New Zealand until your visa expires.

If you want a holiday in New Zealand after your exchange, you can apply for a Visitor Visa to stay another 3 months as a tourist.