Preparing to Go to New Zealand
NZ Visa 101 | Step-by-Step Checklist | Important Visa Information | FAQs
New Zealand Visa 101
In order to study in New Zealand you must obtain a student visa. Please read the following information in its entirety very carefully before beginning the application process; any errors will delay the visa application process.
The below instructions are directed towards U.S. passport holders. If you are not a U.S. citizen, please contact the New Zealand Embassy for directions on how to obtain a visa.
Please apply for your visa no earlier than 90 days and no later than 4 weeks prior to your departure.
Contact your Program Manager if you still have questions after reading through this entire page.
The New Zealand visa process is a comparatively simple one, and can be completed in these six simple steps:
Step 1: Obtain a Passport
If you do not already have a passport, you should apply for one immediately. Refer to the U.S. Department of State for instructions on how to apply for a passport. Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the intended date of departure from New Zealand.
Step 2: Gather Application Materials
You will need the following materials to complete your visa application:
* Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the intended date of departure from New Zealand.
Step 3: Complete the Visa Application
The visa application must be fully completed, signed, and dated by you in ink. Refer to the Sample Visa Application as a guide to fill out your application. You should also review the Student Visa/Permit Guides from the NZ Immigration Website. If you are unsure of an answer, call your program manager and ask for advice. Do not guess on any question.
The Arcadia University Confirmation of Enrollment letter is necessary for your visa application. It indicates that Arcadia University is responsible for paying your tuition and accommodation fees to your New Zealand University. Because you have this letter, you do not have to fill out a Financial Undertaking for a Student form or provide personal finance information.
All non-US citizens can use the same Student Visa Application form to apply.
Step 4: Complete the Cover Letter and Fee Form
Fill out the Visa Application Cover Letter and the VAC Service & Return Courier Fee Form. Click here for confirmation of Service and Courier fee amounts from the New Zealand Visa Application Center (VAC) website.
Step 5: Make Copies
Make copies of the following:
- Completed Visa Application
- Completed Visa Application Cover Letter
- Completed VAC Service & Return Courier Fee Form
- Arcadia Confirmation of Enrollment Letter
- Acceptance/Offer Letter from your New Zealand University
- Flight Itinerary
Keep these copies for your records. You must send the originals with your visa application.
Step 6: Combine Materials & Submit
Combine the visa application, cover letter, VAC form, Arcadia University confirmation of enrollment letter, New Zealand university acceptance letter, and flight itinerary along with your passport, and two recent passport-sized photographs with your name printed on the back.
How to Send: It is strongly recommended that you mail the completed application via Federal Express to the appropriate New Zealand visa processing center (addresses included below). While other courier services such as UPS and DHL can be used, Federal Express is the only service that delivers twice a day.
Your application can be traced by Federal Express in the event that your visa and passport are lost in the mail provided you remember to copy down the tracking number of the envelope. (The New Zealand Embassy is NOT responsible for any documents or passports lost in transit).
Helpful Hint: To further ensure a timely return on your student visa, you can also write your departure date on the outside of the FedEx envelope. Visas are processed in order of departure date, not in the order the applications are received. This will help the visa officers process your visa in a timely manner.
Where to Send: Most U.S. Passport holders should mail their visa application to the Washington DC office.
New Zealand Visa Application Center
1120 19th Street NW, Suite No. 415
Washington, D.C. 20036
However, U.S. Passport holders residing in the following western states can send their applications to the New Zealand Visa Application Center in Los Angeles: Washington, Montana, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Alaska and Hawaii.
The address for the LA office is:
1620 26th Street, Suite 2075N
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Important Visa Information
Please read these important notes before completing your New Zealand student visa application:
- You must send in your actual passport so that your visa can be physically attached to the inside of the passport.
- Be prepared to mail your materials to the appropriate center/consulate as soon as you receive the Arcadia Confirmation of Enrollment letter and the Acceptance/Offer Letter from your New Zealand University (these will be sent to you in one email from your Program Manager). Allow at least 3-4 weeks for visa processing.
- Do not over-pack your application with multiple envelopes, extra documents, etc. This slows the processing time.
- Do not send an incomplete application. The immigration officials will not match up documents that arrive separately.
- Students studying in New Zealand for more than six months may also need to provide a completed Chest X-ray Certificate (1096) to show you have been screened for tuberculosis (TB).
- Students studying for only one semester do not need to provide any medical documentation. Students studying for two semesters who have spent a combined total of three months or more in a country identified as a high-risk TB country will need to provide a completed Chest X-ray Certificate (1096) to show that they have been screened for tuberculosis (TB). The New Zealand Immigration Services have compiled a list of low-risk TB countries.
- If you have any questions regarding the visa process, email your program manager or call 1-866-927-2234.
Do I have to send my actual passport with my visa application?
YES! Your visa will be affixed inside your passport, so the NZ Immigration officials need it to award you a visa. This is why it is so important that you send your application in a package with a tracking number.
What's the difference between the Sample Visa Application available on this page and the Student Visa Guide from the NZ Immigration website?
The New Zealand Student Visa Application is designed to be used for many different kinds of study experiences in New Zealand. Your Program Manager has completed a Sample Visa Application to guide you in answering some of the questions as an Arcadia study abroad student studying in New Zealand for one or two semesters. It is very important, therefore, that you refer to this sample (note that you must answer all questions on the application unless expressly directed by the sample or the application instructions to leave blank). The Student Visa Guide from the NZ Immigration website is broader, but still useful, so we recommend that you review it as well.
One of the visa application questions mentions working in New Zealand. Can I work in New Zealand?
Again, this application form serves different kinds of students. As study abroad students in New Zealand for one or two semesters only, you cannot work. That is why the question is marked "N/A" in the Sample Visa Application.
The application process includes several different fees. Which fees apply to me?
All students need to pay the Visa Application Center (VAC) Service Fee as well as a Courier charge (in order to get your passport and visa mailed back to you). Information about these fees can be found at the New Zealand Visa Application Center website here. These fees must be paid by credit card using the VAC Service & Return Courier Fee Form (see instructions above). Additionally, the NZ Immigration website and application reference an Application Fee. This Application Fee does not apply to U.S. passport-holders applying from the U.S. Non-U.S. passport-holders will need to check the NZ Immigration website for fee information appropriate to their location and citizenship. Please be advised that the New Zealand Government reserves the right to alter fees at any time.
I've received my passport back from the Embassy/Consulate. Where is the visa?
The visa is affixed inside the passport, on one of the pages behind the identity page. If you have thoroughly searched your passport and there is no New Zealand visa (it will have your name, host university in New Zealand, and the dates the visa is valid), please contact the Embassy/Consulate immediately.
Don't see your question? Please see here for a longer list of Frequently Asked Questions from the New Zealand Visa Application Center.