Update to Border Exceptions for students

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Update to Border Exceptions for students


In October 2020, the Government announced an exception to the border closure for international PhD and postgraduate students.  This new category was for an allowance of 250 international students to return to New Zealand to continue their studies.


Students applying under this exception must hold or have held a visa to study in New Zealand in 2020 but were unable to entre the country due to the COVID-19 restrictions. The exception does not apply to new students looking to enter the country to start their studies.


Due to the limited number of positions available under this category, the following priorities were put in place for assessment of the applications:

  • PhD programme students received top priority; and
  • Students enrolled in a qualification that involves practical components such as medicine, veterinary, engineering, laboratory sciences and agricultural research were next; and
  • Students that were physically unable to progress or complete their studies offshore.


The Ministry of Education is working with Tertiary Education Providers and Immigration New Zealand to identify, verify and prioritise eligible students.  Eligible students are nominated by their providers for consideration for an exemption and approved by Immigration New Zealand before travelling to New Zealand.


On 14 January 2021, Immigration New Zealand has released an update on the category for priority returning degree and post-graduate students.  The update includes an allowance of up to 1,000 returning international students and their families being allowed to return to New Zealand to continue or complete their studies. Places for this exemption are not restricted to universities and students at institutes of technology, polytechnics, wananga or private training establishments will also be considered for eligibility.


Successful applicants must demonstrate that they have access to $20,000.00 per annum in order to support themselves for the duration of their visa as well as the additional funds to pay for Managed Isolation and Quarantine (“MIQ”) upon their arrival in New Zealand. MIQ currently requires an individual to complete a 14-day period in government managed isolation and quarantine facilities and a series of Covid-19 tests during this period.


For further information, visit the following sites:

Ministry of Education – advice for tertiary students

Ministry of Education – border exceptions for international students

New Zealand Government – Unite against COVID-19

New Zealand Government – help and advice in other languages

Managed Isolation and Quarantine


Or contact us to discuss your options