International student visitors
This guidance provides advice and resources for schools hosting visitors from overseas on school trips or exchanges.
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This information has been compiled as guidance and to recommend good practice for hosting visitors from overseas. Some elements of this advice relate to regulations set in law. This information should be used as a supplement for professional or legal advice regarding hosting overseas students, not as a substitute.
- Code of Practice
- Types of visitor
- Homestays and accommodation
- Passports and visas
- Further information
To host international students on a school trip or exchange for more than two weeks, your school must be a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students.
When planning to host a student, or to take an international student on a school trip, ensure you are following the procedures laid down by the school in relation to the requirements of the Code. You should also follow all the relevant advice on this page.
As part of these Code requirements, students will need to be provided with the contact details of someone who is available at all times (24 hours a day, 7 days a week).
Schools can host overseas students on a visitor visa for short-term visits of less than two weeks, at the principal’s discretion. These students do not need to be enrolled and should not be charged student fees. Schools should keep a separate record of these students, including their full legal name, citizenship, date of birth, dates of visit, year level, and whether the visit is part of a sister-school, group, or family visit.
If schools will be receiving any money from these visitors for tuition or education services, then these visitors should be considered student visitors.
If visiting students are attending the school for longer than two weeks, they must be recorded in the ENROL system, must pay student fees, and the school must be a signatory to the pastoral care Code of Practice. Visiting students who are not on exchange must pay international school fees unless they are considered domestic students for another reason.
For more information on who is a domestic student, see the full definition on the Ministry website.
Exchange students are considered domestic students, so they do not have to pay international student fees. If you are hosting an exchange student, make sure you have been granted approval from the Ministry of Education to operate an exchange programme. For more information about this, see the Ministry website.
Regardless of the length of the visit, schools should have policies and procedures in place that clearly set out the responsibilities of the school, group supervisors, families, and any other third party involved in organising and delivering the visit.
Third Party Responsibilities
If your school relies on a third party to organise and deliver the visit, you should advise the third party on all relevant legal obligations and good practice, including these guidelines. You should also develop written agreements with third parties and keep a record of the agent’s contact details.
Schools should ensure that their international school visitors have sufficient adult supervision. Determine an appropriate supervisor-to-visitor ratio based on the following factors:
- The number of visitors
- The ages of visitors (visitors under the age of 18 without parents should have 24-hour supervision)
- The duration of the visit
- Visitors with minimal or limited English language proficiency
- The activities involved.
If Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC) activities are planned, refer to the EOTC Guidelines for appropriate supervision ratios. As a reference, the Code of Practice and the Guidelines that support the Code provide more comprehensive information in relation to group students.
Prior to accepting students, ensure you can comply with the Code of Practice regarding homestays and accommodation. Schools should only accept visitors in years 1-4 if they will be living with a legal guardian during the visit, or in a school hostel with appropriate supervision.
Provide host families with clear guidance for hosting students and arrange information meetings with families before the students arrive, if required.
Establishing a proper communication channel with host parents/families is very important. Ensure that they are provided with a flow chart of communication channels, including emergency response contacts.
For more information about homestays and accommodation requirements, see the Code of Practice.
International students (including group students) should have appropriate and current medical and travel insurance while in New Zealand and for travel to/from New Zealand. Check to make sure this is in place, bearing in mind the activities to be undertaken. See information on insurance in our advice about school trips and exchanges for more detail on minimum requirements.
Make sure that all students that you will be hosting have the appropriate documents to travel to and from New Zealand. This includes valid passports and visas. If a student will be visiting for more than three months, make sure that they have a visa that allows them to attend school for this period eg a student visa.
For more information on appropriate visas to enter New Zealand, see the Immigration New Zealand website.
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