Reconnecting New Zealanders to the world

Where does international education fit in?

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a plan to reconnect New Zealanders to the world in 2022. 

This framework is based on being able to maintain the elimination strategy, alongside a high coverage of vaccination, strong confidence in our system and a phased approach to opening the border.

Read the Prime Minister’s announcement in full | Reconnecting New Zealand to the world on Unite Against COVID-19 site

The key points of this plan are: 

  • To continue to speed up New Zealand’s vaccination rollout, and move to six weeks between doses so that more New Zealanders have immunity sooner.
  • Phased approach to reopening border in the second half of 2021, and set up of new testing and vaccine checking systems at the border.
  • Move to new, risk-based border settings that will establish low, medium and high-risk pathways into the country.

New Zealand’s ability to reconnect with the world depends on these factors being successful.

At this early stage, we can’t provide detail or any degree of certainty for students looking to apply for study in or book travel to New Zealand.

Many New Zealand institutions are now offering new ways to study. If you’re wondering which study option might be right for you, visit Study With New Zealand New Ways of Learning.

We suggest that agents, students and their families wait until policy announcements are made before booking any travel to study in New Zealand. We could expect to see more clarity on this later in the year.



When will New Zealand open up to the world?

Work continues on developing the requirements for a phased approach to Reconnecting New Zealanders to the rest of the world in 2022. We could expect to see more clarity on this later in 2021.

Read more about the next steps to reconnecting New Zealanders to the world.

What do we know about timeframes for international students returning to New Zealand?

While we are pleased to note that a number of international students have been able to return to New Zealand under the current class exceptions, we aren’t able to provide exact timeframes for a large-scale return for international students and providers.

Managing our border doesn’t mean conditions will stay exactly as they are now, but it does mean that there are likely to be restrictions and requirements in place until at least December 2022.

Can students apply for semester 1 2022 study?

We would currently advise students not to plan for study in New Zealand for semester 1, 2022.

Please note offshore temporary visa application lodgements are currently suspended till February 2022 and this may be extended. 

International student class exceptions are a key priority for the Government, but we can’t predict timing on when a further cohort might be announced, or what MIQ capacity may look like at the time.

Will the phased border approach outlined in the Reconnecting New Zealanders to the World announcements affect the temporary suspension of offshore visa application lodgements?

The Government continues work on developing the requirements for a phased approach to Reconnecting New Zealanders to the rest of the world in 2022.  As such, no decisions have been made yet on how the border plan might affect offshore visa application lodgements.

What is the Government’s position generally regarding international education?

Despite the severity and complexity of the COVID-19 pandemic, and our ongoing commitment to its elimination strategy, the New Zealand Government remains committed to a thriving international education sector. 

In a recent meeting with the international education sector, the Minister of Education highlighted the New Zealand Government’s support for the continued safe return of international students to New Zealand, when the time is right.

How does the border approach affect the students coming into New Zealand under the border exception classes?

It doesn’t. Existing processes for students to enter the country under existing border exception classes (the 250 PhD and postgraduate cohort and the 1000 bachelor's degree and above cohort) will remain in place.

Read about the two international student border exceptions classes on the Immigration New Zealand website.

How will New Zealand determine which countries are low, medium or high-risk?

The government is currently working through how it will determine this.

How will the phased border approach affect Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ)?

Vaccinated travellers from low-risk countries will not be required to go through managed isolation facilities.

Vaccinated travellers from medium-risk countries will have modified isolation requirements, the details of which are still to be worked through.

Unvaccinated travellers and all travellers from high-risk countries will need to undergo 14 days in MIQ.

Read more on the next steps of reconnecting New Zealanders to the world

Would lockdowns in New Zealand affect the timing of the phased border approach?

The New Zealand Government is committed to the elimination strategy and the successful rollout of vaccines. New Zealand’s border approach depends on our ability to stamp out clusters of COVID-19 as they arise, so there is some possibility that further lockdowns may delay the border approach.

Will international students in New Zealand continue to receive free COVID-19 healthcare?

Yes. Vaccines are available to everyone in New Zealand (12 years and over) free of charge. This includes international students.

Read more about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout on the Ministry of Health website.

All publicly funded COVID-19 related care – including testing, treatment and vaccinations – is provided to anyone who needs it, free of charge. 

What's in it for me?