New Zealand Reopens its Borders to International Students

Global News and Perspectives

The COVID-19 pandemic finally seems to be coming to an end, or at least the world seems to be learning to live with it – with more countries beginning to reopen their borders to international travellers and visitors. In 2020, New Zealand imposed one of the strictest border controls in the world in response to the rapid spread of coronavirus, and after more than two years, the country is finally reopening its international borders to people from outside the country.

Here’s a look at New Zealand’s new rules and see what these imply for its higher education sector. Will the easing of restrictions enable New Zealand to become an upcoming global educational hotspot?

Background to the travel restrictions

In March 2020, New Zealand’s government, led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern closed its borders to all foreigners as a means to control the spread of the deadly coronavirus that was fast spreading across the world. This prevented all non-citizens and non-residents from entering the country. Both tourists and temporary visa holders like workers and students were restricted from immigrating to New Zealand. The decision was made keeping in mind the public health crisis, despite its potential effects on the economy.

As new waves of COVID-19 came, NZ held fast to its international travel restrictions. In April 2021, a new category of “very high risk” regions was created, including countries like India, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, and Brazil. Other than NZ citizens and immediate family, nobody could travel to New Zealand from these countries.

Over the last two years, New Zealand intermittently allowed travel to and fro Australia and the Cook Islands, with necessary precautions such as negative tests and quarantine upon arrival. International travel from some other parts of the world was also intermittently allowed with managed isolation and quarantine.

In February 2022, the NZ government announced that it would reopen its borders in five stages, culminating with opening its borders to all visa holding categories across the world in October. However, on 11th May, they decided to open up its borders to the world by July 31st itself, a move welcomed by many.

New Zealand reopens its borders

New Zealand’s decision to restrict international travel negatively affected the country’s travel and tourism sector. The tourism industry suffered greatly as even visitors who were allowed in between had to undergo isolation and quarantine processes. The closure of borders also impacted universities in the country and all international students wishing to study in NZ or already studying there.

Thankfully, eligible travellers can now begin entering New Zealand. The easing of travel restrictions is happening in stages and by 31st July, all visitor and student visas will fully reopen.

Will New Zealand become an upcoming Global Education hotspot post the pandemic?

International students wishing to study in New Zealand can begin applying for new student visas from 11:59 PM in New Zealand Standard Time on 31 July 2022. Those applying need to meet the standard student visa requirements to get their student visa. Evidence of online study can support a visa application.

All students who already have a visa can enter the country if they still hold a valid offer of a place to study and still meet the conditions of their student visa. There will be no border exceptions for students. People with existing visitor visas can also study short courses that span less than 3 months.

Students outside of New Zealand can continue to study online without a visa, although time spent studying online from outside of the country does not count towards study requirements for a post-work visa.

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Global News and Perspectives


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