New Zealand Opening Borders For International Students

New Zealand Opening Borders For International Students

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Prime minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern has recently announced the opening of its borders for international students. It's great news for students aspiring for higher studies in NZ.

Gurbani Kaur Suri
Updated on:  27 Oct 2023  | Reviewed By: 
| 1.84K | 6  min read

Every country in the world closed its international borders at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, and New Zealand was no exception to it. Other countries opened their borders when they felt the need to do so but in the case of New Zealand, it was more stringent. The borders haven’t been opened since the time the pandemic started but now that most countries are ramping up the vaccination, it becomes important for New Zealand to open the gates for international students. However, new variants of COVID are coming at intervals so it becomes essential for countries to allow a calculated entry of International students. Most countries are doing it this way to check the spread of new variants. 

New Zealand PM, Jacinda Ardern announced that the country will open its borders for students planning to pursue higher studies. The PM said that the country will open its border in stages, and it will start at the end of February. The country tried opening its international borders even before but the sudden rise in the number of cases was due to the omicron variant. All countries have to close down their borders but now that cases are coming down, New Zealand is all set to welcome international students. 

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Opening Up of International Borders

Stage Date International Visitors Allowed

 Stage 1 

 27th February 2022 

Citizens of New Zealand
Visitors from Australia (people with border exceptions)

Stage 2

13th March 2022

New Zealanders and other eligible travelers under current border settings from the rest of the world
Skilled workers earning at least 1.5 times the median wage
Working Holiday Scheme visas

Stage 3

12th April 2022

Current offshore temporary visa holders meeting the relevant visa requirements
5000 international students studying in the second semester
Class exceptions for critical workforces that do not meet the 1.5 times the median wage test will be considered

Stage 4

July 2022

Anyone visiting New Zealand from Australia
Visa waiver travel
 Accredited Employer Work Visa will open, meaning the skilled and health worker border exception can be phased out 

Stage 5

October 2022

Border fully reopens to visitors from anywhere in the world, and all visa categories fully reopen


The borders will be opened up in a phased manner, and all the precautions will be taken before letting International visitors start coming to New Zealand. The borders will be first opened for citizens of New Zealand coming from Australia. Other visa holders from Australia will also be allowed to enter New Zealand. Once the first stage of international visitors is allowed then the authorities will subsequently allow other people from the rest of the world to come to New Zealand. The extra precautionary measures are being taken to ensure that no other variants spread in New Zealand. 

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The PM highlighted the reason behind the rollback of the decision to let students from other countries come to New Zealand. The PM said that “With Omicron’s arrival, we pushed that change in border settings out – to give ourselves the chance to roll out boosters – a chance most other countries never had.” She went on to explain the rationale behind opening up international borders and said, “With our community better protected we must turn to the importance of reconnection. Families and friends need to reunite. Our businesses need skills to grow. Exporters need to travel to make new connections.” 

New Zealand has diluted some costly precautionary measures which were a big hurdle for the international students. Earlier anyone visiting New Zealand from Australia (the only country from which traveling was allowed in the last two years) had to isolate themselves in very costly isolation centers called MIQs. But in the new set of guidelines, the government made it clear that now international students can self-isolate at their place of accommodation. It will help students in saving a lot of money which they would have spent otherwise in costly MIQ facilities for self-isolation. 

International visitors, and vaccinated New Zealanders from Australia will be allowed from 27th February. The second set of travelers will be the citizens of New Zealand from across the globe, and they will be allowed two weeks from 27th February. Also, critical workers and other skilled workers will be allowed entry into New Zealand from the same date. The two week window is taken by the New Zealand authorities so that they don’t have to face a sudden influx of infection. The timeframe will allow authorities to check the spread of any infection that might come due to the increased footfalls. 

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From April 12th, 5000 international students will be allowed to visit New Zealand for higher education on student visas. Other eligible temporary student visa holders will also be allowed to enter from this date. It is anticipated that with increased footfalls the number of cases might see a rise so the government is trying to strike a balance between the existing healthcare facilities and the increased number of cases. Other international students and visitors will be allowed from October. 

The self-isolation period is expected to be the same, and International visitors will have to undergo a mandatory isolation for a week. The international passengers would be given three Rapid Antigen Tests to check the infection after reaching their place of accommodation. International students or visitors who aren’t vaccinated will have to undergo isolation at MIQs. 

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These are a broad set of guidelines and plans for allowing international students to enter New Zealand. If everything goes as per the plan and provided there is no other variant that might increase the number of cases, then this phased manner of the opening of international borders will be followed. However, in the midst of uncertainties, nothing is final. The regulations for international traveling are pretty dynamic in contemporary times, and one must rely only on the official channels of communications for reliable information. You can visit the official website of New Zealand’s immigration department to get precise information about traveling as it is regularly updated by the authorities. If everything goes as per the plan, then from October we can have full operational international travel to New Zealand. It’s the best time for students to take the required test(IELTS/GRE/GMAT/TOEFL), and secure admission at top universities in New Zealand for the next available sessions. 

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