IMPACT – LOW

What is the change? New Zealand immigration officials have stopped issuing Student Visas to children under five.

What does the change mean? Effective immediately, dependent children under the age of five will only be granted a Visitor Visa. Because children cannot attend school on Visitor Visas, foreign nationals with dependent children under the age of five should plan carefully to make sure their children obtain a Student Visa close to their fifth birthday and in time to attend school in New Zealand.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Student Visas/Visitor Visas for dependent children in New Zealand.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals residing in New Zealand with young children.
  • Business impact: Businesses may wish to flag this issue for employees with young children so they are aware that they must begin preparing to apply for a Student Visa as their child approaches his or her fifth birthday.

Background: Up until now, New Zealand issued student visas to children under five, provided the child would turn five at some point during their visa validity period. Immigration New Zealand changed its policy recently so that children under five will now be provided Visitor Visas, but not Student Visas. While children cannot attend primary school on a Visitor Visa, children under five will remain eligible for Early Childhood Education. Early Childhood Education provides up to 20 hours of free childcare per week and is available to children between the ages of three and five regardless of their New Zealand immigration status.

BAL Analysis: Foreign nationals planning on moving to New Zealand with young children should take note of the change and make sure they plan to obtain a Student Visa for their children shortly before their fifth birthday.