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 25 May 2020, 16.56 NZT
New Zealand is now at Alert Level 2. This will be reviewed on 8 June and a move to Alert Level 1 will be considered no later than 22 June.
Here is a high level overview of Level 2:
- Most businesses can open if they can do it safely. This will help to get people back to work.
- We can go in-store at local businesses.
- Tertiary education facilities, schools and early learning centres will be open.
- We can travel between regions.
- Gatherings like weddings, funerals, tangihanga, religious ceremonies and social gatherings can have up to 100 people from noon, Friday, 29 May.
- We can visit local cafes and restaurants bars and pubs to have a meal.
- Find out more about life at Level 2
Play it safe at Level 2
These are the most important things that you can do:
- COVID-19 is still out there. Play it safe.
- Keep your distance from other people in public.
- If you’re sick, stay home. Don’t go to work or school. Don’t socialise.
- If you have symptoms of cold or flu call your doctor or Healthline and get tested.
- Wash your hands.
- Sneeze and cough into your elbow, regularly disinfect surfaces.
- If you have been told to self-isolate you must do so immediately.
- Keep a track of where you’ve been and who you’ve seen.
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.
Study during Alert Level 2
All schools and early learning services can open onsite under Alert Level 2. Tertiary Education Organisations can move to Level 2 from Thursday 14 May.
All are safe to attend and additional public health measures are in place. It is important that all children can come to school.
- Tertiary students should check their organisations’ onsite opening plans. Most are organising a phased return to onsite learning, while maintaining distance learning options.
- The Ministry of Education website is the official source of information for New Zealand’s education sector during the COVID-19 outbreak. It has advice and information for students and their families including in simplified Chinese. It also has information for education providers and homestay families.
- For any other information that your tertiary education provider is unable to help with, call the Tertiary Education Commission on 0800 123 797.
Entering New Zealand
Currently, only New Zealand citizens and residents enter the country, unless there are extreme circumstances.
Exceptions may be considered on a case by case basis for:
- Health and other essential workers
- Citizens of Samoa and Tonga for essential travel to New Zealand
- Visitor, student or work visa holders who normally live in New Zealand, and who are the partner or dependent of a temporary work or student visa holder who is currently in New Zealand.
- Humanitarian reasons.
- Very few requests have been approved to date.
- For more details on extensions and changes to student visas to support essential services, visit this Immigration New Zealand webpage.
Repatriation travel for international students
- International students with valid international flight tickets to depart New Zealand (from Auckland or Christchurch airports) can travel to these cities by a single flight, private and non-private transport.
- Education providers who are assisting international students with flights must meet their duty of care obligations towards students.
- For more information on domestic travel for international students returning to their home countries, visit this page on the COVID-19 website.
Extensions to student visas
- The Government is extending visas of temporary migrants in New Zealand, including international students, to ensure that there is some certainty for them as they face the challenges of being in a foreign country at this extraordinary time.
- International students in New Zealand with visas expiring between 2 April and 9 July 2020 will have their visas automatically extended to 25 September 2020 at no additional cost.
- Confirmation of extensions will be emailed to all visa holders.
- The visa extension also applies to NZeTA holders, who are issued a three-month visitor visa on arrival into New Zealand. Visitor visas of NZeTA holders will be extended to 25 September 2020 (the same as those who are on visitor visas).
- Immigration New Zealand has set up a dedicated web page for student visa holders. This will provide you will the latest information and advice on COVID-19 related visa queries.
- You can also call the Immigration Contact Centre on 0508 225 288 (within New Zealand) or +64 9 952 1679 (outside of New Zealand).
Support if your visa has expired
We understand that there may be international students in New Zealand who were unable to leave the country before the expiry of their visas and who do not currently hold a valid visa.
If your visa has expired, you will need to send an email outlining your circumstances to firstname.lastname@example.org, including:
- personal details: full name, date of birth, and your Immigration New Zealand client number if known
- a copy of the personal details page in your passport.
- contact details: your email address, phone number and postal address
- an explanation of your circumstances
- what type of visa you would like (for example a visitor visa) and how long you believe you might be required to extend your stay in New Zealand.
Student visa changes to support essential services
The New Zealand Government has relaxed visa conditions for a short period to allow international students to work in essential services:
- Students currently employed in an essential services role, or by supermarkets or the healthcare sector, will be able to work for more than 20 hours in certain circumstances as listed below.
- If you are already employed in an essential services role, you will be able to work longer hours while New Zealand remains in Alert Level 2 and for 6 weeks after that.
- If you were employed in an essential health worker role (including aged residential care) on 3 April 2020, you will be able to work more than 20 hours for the period 3 April 2020 to 3 July 2020 in order to support the public health response to COVID-19. This includes aged residential care and applies to interim visa holders who immediately prior held a student visa.
- Students will need to discuss these plans with their education provider as they still must meet the study requirements of their student visas.
- Your employer must make a request to vary your visa conditions and there are no fees or levies payable for a Variation of Conditions under this special category.
- You cannot apply for a variation of conditions if you hold an interim visa.
COVID-19 wage subsidy for international students
- The New Zealand Government has a wage subsidy available to support employers and their employees affected by COVID-19.
- International students whose visa allows them to work in New Zealand and whose employment has been affected by COVID-19 are advised to check with their employer whether they are eligible for a wage subsidy.
- More details on the wage subsidy, including frequently asked questions by employees, are available on this link.
International Student Hardship Fund
- The New Zealand Government has established a $1M hardship fund for international students to address urgent, temporary needs, for example temporary inability to access cash or because of reduced part-time employment.
- You can find out more about the fund here
Healthcare and insurance for international students
- 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.
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 about Alert Level 2.
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.
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.
- 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):