COVID-19 information for students, agents and the international education sector
International students and the international education sector are a valued part of New Zealand’s education system and community. We want to ensure that students, agents and providers have ready access to the information they need.
For students – go to NauMai NZ for information especially for international students in New Zealand.
Current situation in New Zealand - as at 17 November 2020, 1538 NZT
New Zealand is currently at Alert Level 1.
Information and advice following new community case of COVID-19 in Auckland
Three new cases of COVID-19 were announced in New Zealand on Thursday 12 November, including one community case in Auckland.
The Public Information Management Team at the Office of the Director-General of Health has released the following information for those living in or visiting Auckland on testing, isolation, mask wearing and contact tracing:
- There are a number of locations of interest. if you live in Auckland, please check the full list on the COVID-19 website.
- Anyone in the Auckland area who has cold or flu symptoms should get a test and stay at home until you have a negative test result.
- There are details on the Auckland Regional Public Health website around the location of current and additional testing sites. It also includes where the latest community case shopped.
- Tertiary students who have concerns about sitting on-site for examinations in Auckland are encouraged to contact their tertiary provider with their concerns.
- Aucklanders taking public transport are asked to wear a mask.
- Anyone flying in or out of Auckland should be wearing a mask on their flight.
- Keep track of where you’ve been with the NZ COVID Tracer app.
- Anyone concerned about today’s news can ring Healthline’s dedicated number 0800 358 5453 for advice.
High-level overview of Alert Level 1
- At Alert Level 1, we all need to be ready in case COVID-19 reappears in our community.
- From Thursday, 19 November, it is mandatory to wear a face covering on all public transport within and in and out of Auckland.
- This includes buses, trains, and ferries. It does not include school buses and private tours.
- You do not have to wear a mask in a taxi, but your driver does.
- Children under the age of 12 are exempt.
- From Thursday, 19 November, it is mandatory to wear a face covering on all domestic flights, no matter where you are going within New Zealand.
- You are encouraged to continue physical distancing, regular hand-washing and signing in to business and public places while out and about.
- Make sure you stay home if you feel unwell. Refer to the information below to see when you might need a COVID-19 test.
Read more on New Zealand's official COVID-19 website - Unite against COVID-19.
Key sources of health information
If you are in New Zealand:
- The official New Zealand Government source of information is website - covid19.govt.nz - with information on:
- The symptoms of COVID-19 and how to seek medical help
- How to protect your mental wellbeing
- Content for speakers of other languages. There are currently 28 translations of the COVID-19 site available, including Hindi, Simplied Chinese, Arabic, Korean and Japanese.
- Call Healthline for health-related calls about COVID-19 on 0800 358 5453. Or for international SIMs +64 9 358 5453. You can talk with a member of the National Telehealth Service and interpreters will be on hand. The number is staffed by nurses, paramedics and health advisors.
- You can also follow the Ministry of Health on Facebook @minhealthnz for key updates and on Twitter @minhealthnz
If you are outside of New Zealand the best source is the World Health Organisation (WHO):
COVID-19 testing for international students
- Please note that publicly funded COVID-19 related care - including diagnosis, testing and treatment - is provided free of charge to anyone who requires it, including international students. More information on free COVID-19 testing
- Some countries require travellers to confirm a negative COVID-19 test before they leave New Zealand. Students who require a test prior to departure can organise this through Healthline or their GP, but they will need to pay for it. See questions and answers on pre-departure COVID-19 testing.
NZ COVID Tracer App
Fast and effective contact tracing is one way we can all work together to prevent any further spread of COVID-19 in New Zealand. One easy way to keep track of where you've been is the NZ COVID Tracer App.
All public transport services and small passenger services such as taxis are required to display QR codes.
Information for education providers
- International education providers have signed The Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice. They have an important responsibility to ensure students are well informed, safe and properly cared for during this time.
- The Ministry of Education’s COVID-19 page has advice on New Zealand's education response.
- New Zealand Qualifications Authority has developed information and advice for providers who, as Code signatories, have important responsibilities to international students.
- The Tertiary Education Commission leads the Government's relationship with the tertiary education sector and offers information for providers.
Operating at Alert Level 1
Tertiary providers will be familiar with the Ministry’s guidelines on how they should operate at different Alert Levels.
A reminder of key principles for operating at Alert Level 1 include:
- All on-site activities at tertiary education facilities can continue as normal, including classes, lectures, labs, workshops, tutorials, noho, meetings, etc.
- TEOs are required to display the official NZ COVID Tracer QR code posters in a prominent place at or near the main entrances.
- Remote learning and teaching systems should be maintained in case of a move to a higher Alert Level.
- TEOs should be ready to move up alert levels at short notice.
- If a staff member or student is concerned about their wellbeing, or has underlying health conditions, they should work with their GP or other health professional to understand how best to stay healthy.
Specific guidance on how on-site exams should run at different Alert Levels can be found here.
Information for international students on COVID-19 and Alert Levels is available on NauMai NZ, an Education New Zealand resource to support international students studying in New Zealand.
- International students can sign up to NauMai NZ to receive regular email updates.
- Students from China can follow the ENZ WeChat account.
- If you are a student and need some help, we have developed a hardship information resource. This includes information on where you can get food parcels and other essential items.
The Government recently announced a number of changes to assist visitors who are staying in New Zealand longer than expected due to the impacts of COVID-19.
Overview of the main changes and announcements
- Around 1300 school-aged children who are unable to depart New Zealand because of COVID-19 can now be enrolled in schools as domestic students, meaning they do not have to pay international school fees. More information on eligibility criteria is available here. Note that this change does not affect their visa or immigration status.
- Some people who are in New Zealand and have a current visitor visa due to expire between 4 September and the end of October 2020, will have their visitor visas automatically extended by five months. There are some visitor visa categories that will not be extended. These include critical purpose visitor visa holders, guardians of students, and partners or dependants linked to a work visa holder whose visa was extended previously.
- Some people who hold a visitor visa can now study on that visa for up to six months in a year (instead of the standard three months). This change only applies to people who are in New Zealand and held a valid visitor visa on Friday 11 September 2020. This change applies to both school-age children attending compulsory education and adults studying at tertiary education providers, including English Language schools. Immigration New Zealand is in the process of notifying people who are eligible to study for a longer period while holding a visitor visa.
- A new COVID-19 short-term visitor visa has been introduced to help temporary migrants who hold a visa that is expiring soon but who are unable to leave New Zealand due to international travel restrictions. This includes international students who have completed their study and are waiting for flights to depart New Zealand. Individuals can apply for the COVID-19 short-term visitor visa on the Immigration NZ website.
- For more information on the visa changes, please visit the Immigration New Zealand website.
Support if your visa has expired
If your visa has already expired, you must take urgent action and either leave New Zealand immediately (if possible), or make a request for a special visa under Section 61 of the Immigration Act.
New Zealand border
- The New Zealand border is closed except to New Zealand citizens and residents, and a small number of limited exceptions.
- There is more information on the border closure and what some of the exceptions are on the Immigration NZ website.
Repatriation travel for international students
- Education providers who are assisting international students with flights must meet their duty of care obligations towards students.
- For more information on travel for international students returning to their home countries, visit this page on the COVID-19 website.
Work and financial issues
Assistance for foreign nationals programme
- The Assistance to Foreign Nationals Impacted by COVID-19 Programme opened 1 July 2020 and will close 30 November 2020.
- Any foreign national in New Zealand – including international students – may apply for this support if they are experiencing temporary hardship due to the effects of COVID-19. More information here.
There is further information on what financial support is available on the Unite Against COVID-19 website.
Healthcare and insurance
- International students are eligible for free, public healthcare if they think they have COVID-19. Further information is available on the Ministry of Health's website.
- People who develop symptoms of a cough, fever, shortness of breath, a sore throat, sneezing and runny nose, and a temporary loss of smell should seek medical advice – phone Healthline’s dedicated COVID-19 number 0800 358 5453.
- New Zealand Qualifications Authority advises international students to contact their insurance provider directly for up-to-date advice on any changes to their cover as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, and to then consider their options, and take the course of action that is in their best interests.