Will New Zealand open its borders to international students in 2022?

16Feb

New Zealand has had one of the strictest border closures throughout the pandemic, remaining shut to almost all travellers and citizens since April 2020. This, in turn, has seen many international students choose to study in countries such as the UK and Canada, where it has been easier for students to enter.

New Zealand suspended the processing of most offshore visa application from August 2020, and this suspension currently extends to August 2022. There may be a decision to lift this suspension in part or in full before August 2022, based on the stages in the five-step plan.

New Zealand will reopen its border in five stages throughout 2022, with fully vaccinated international students prioritised for the third stage beginning 12 April, when 5,000 international students will be allowed to return for the second semester of the academic year under a special border exemption category. More details about the selection process for those 5,000 students are forthcoming, but what is known is that the new cohort will be in addition to 1,000 students who were approved for entry in 2022 last fall.

Education New Zealand (ENZ) welcomes the Government’s announcement to reopen New Zealand’s borders. This is a positive step for international education. New Zealand’s educators have known for some time of plans for a phased border reopening and will not be surprised by the timeframe. The return of some students this year will of course be welcome. But despite ENZ’s Mr McPherson calling the gradual opening of the border an “opportunity to rebuild and reshape” the sector

The five-step plan includes:

  • From Feb.27, 2022, fully vaccinated New Zealand citizens and residents from Australia can return home from Feb.27, 2022
  • From March 13, 2022, fully vaccinated citizens worldwide can arrive. This also applies to travellers on a working holiday scheme and skilled workers
  • From April 12, 2022, up to 5,000 international students are allowed into the country
  • From July 2022, fully vaccinated Australians and all other visitors who can normally travel visa-free to New Zealand are expected to be able to travel
  • From October 2022, all visa categories will reopen, including visitor and student visas

Travellers are still required to conduct a pre-departure test to be eligible to enter New Zealand. They will be given three free rapid antigen tests at the airport to be used on day zero or one, on day five or six, and one spare. They will have to take a PCR test if any one of those turns out positive.

Rules on entry for pre-university students still unclear:

The news about the return of international students has been met warmly by universities. Pre-university institutions such as high schools, however, remain unclear about the guidelines surrounding the return of their students. Rosengrave stated that New Zealand will “always be a desirable place” for international students, but that the “delay” could cause some to consider other countries.

For any international students with hopes of returning to New Zealand as part of the 2022 April border exception of 5,000 students, ENZ’s Mr McPherson emphasised that “students who have questions about this border class exception should contact their agent or preferred education provider in the first instance.

 

Novaturient is a Licensed Immigration consultant that offer Visa services in acquiring Permanent Resident Visa, Student Visa and Visit Visa for countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Schengen Countries and the UK.

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