Bringing your family

Your New Zealand Scholarship Programme scholarship doesn’t provide any financial support for family, so you’ll need to decide if you’ll be able to support them

While it can be a wonderful shared experience living together in New Zealand, you will have to prepare for and organise many extra things to meet your family’s needs.

Things to consider before bringing family to NZ

Costs

  • Are you able to pay for visas (including medical checks), airfares, rent, food, clothing, schooling for your family?
  • Do you have a large family? (This will increase costs substantially as you will need to rent a bigger, more expensive house.)

Adjustment

  • Will your family be able to adjust to life in New Zealand easily?
  • What are the problems your family will be facing if they do not speak English?
  • Will your children’s schooling be disrupted? Will the re-adjustment to the education system back home be a problem when they return?
  • Will your spouse’s career be disrupted?
  • Might your partner become homesick? (This can be an issue, especially if they are not as busy as you are.)

Study considerations

  • Are you a single parent, or will your spouse remain at home while the children join you in Wellington? How will you find the necessary time to concentrate on your degree?
  • Are you someone who might struggle academically? (Completing a university degree is a challenge, but many students say that having family here in NZ can make it even harder. You will have to manage your time very carefully.)
  • Do you have a stressful relationship with your family? Will this have a negative impact on your studies if they are here with you in NZ?

Entitlements and challenges

As a New Zealand Scholarship student, your family is entitled to some benefits not normally available to international visitors. Your:

  • children can go to school here and you don’t have to pay international school fees
  • family can access to the New Zealand public health system
  • partner or spouse can get an open work visa and may be able to find full-time work here.

But you’ll also need to consider that:

  • you’re fully responsible for supporting your family financially if they come with you
  • family entry is subject to meeting Immigration New Zealand’s entry criteria
  • it can be difficult to find a good job in New Zealand
  • you’ll still have to pay school costs for your children, like buying uniforms, paying compulsory donations and camp fees.

Cost of living

The cost of living in New Zealand is high.

The average adult needs at least NZ$20,000 a year to cover basic living expenses. A family of four (two adults, two young children) will need more than NZ$70,000.

To find out more about living costs for your family, refer to the International Students’ Financial Survival Guide. If you would like a financial advisor to write a personalised budget for you and your family in Wellington, contact Victoria’s Financial Support and Advice Office.

If you cannot afford to bring your family with you to New Zealand, consider either:

  • coming to Wellington on your own, or
  • re-applying for the scholarship later when you have enough money saved to support your family.

When to bring your family to NZ

Your scholarship does not cover any costs associated with your family’s travel arrangements. If your family joins you in Wellington, you must arrange their visas, associated medical tests, and their travel.

If you plan to bring your family, we strongly recommend that you come to New Zealand on your own first, two weeks before the Pre-Start Programme. This will give you time to look for long-term family accommodation on the private housing market.

If you all come at the same time, you’ll all need to stay in a hotel or hostel while you try to find long term accommodation.

It’s best if your family comes at least four weeks after you—many students wait until the end of the first trimester to bring their family out. This gives enough time to settle into Wellington and your studies, which can be very stressful if your family’s here as well.

Accommodation for your family

University-managed student housing is generally only for single students, so if you bring your family with you to New Zealand, you’ll have to find accommodation on the private housing market. After your arrival, the University’s Accommodation Service can assist you with this.

We suggest you arrive by yourself two weeks before the Pre-Start Programme to allow time to look for long-term family accommodation. You won’t be able to look for a house during the Pre-Start Programme—it’s a compulsory course and you must attend every day of it.

Private housing near the University is usually very expensive, so you will need to budget for travel costs to and from campus.

Visas

Before your family arrives, you’ll need to get valid visas for everyone.

  • Your partner or spouse will probably apply for a work or visitor visa.
  • Children aged under 5 will apply for visitor visas.
  • Children aged 5 years or older will need student visas to attend school in New Zealand.

Work visas for spouses and partners

As a New Zealand Scholarship Programme student, your spouse or partner can automatically get an open work visa before coming to New Zealand, if they meet certain conditions. They won’t need to have a job offer first—they can find a job once they get here.

If you have young children, your partner or spouse should not try to work full time. Your scholarship and study must come first, so they will need to look after the children and help you to focus on your studies.

Read about detailed visa information for partners and dependant children.

Renewing visas

Depending on the length of your degree and the visas they get, your family members may need to renew their visas while you’re studying here. They’ll need to apply separately to the local branch of Immigration NZ (they can’t apply at Victoria International like you can, as a student).

It’s important to budget for the visa renewal as there will be costs for application fees and possibly medical check costs or police clearance.

Health and insurance

If you are bringing your family to New Zealand, they will also have access to the New Zealand public health system, meaning you and your family will be treated as if you were New Zealand citizens and most emergency medical treatment will be free.

However, there are some health services that all New Zealanders have to pay for. For example, fees for visits to the local doctor, and certain emergency situations not covered by the public health system. Private insurance is needed to cover these costs.

Arranging private insurance for your family is your responsibility, but you can do this through the Victoria International insurance adviser and include your family on the same Studentsafe-University policy as yours if you wish.

Childcare and schooling

See the “Students with Family” section in the International Student Handbook for more information on pre-school childcare and school for children aged 5-16 years.

Childcare (children aged 0-5)

If you have children under the age of 5, we recommend your spouse or partner looks after your children. This means they may not be able to take a full-time job. The situation is more complex if you’re a single parent.

There are childcare centres and crèches where you may be able to enrol your children but these are very expensive and can sometimes cost the same as a weekly salary.

Schooling (children aged 5 years or over)

In New Zealand, most children start school when they turn five. School is compulsory from the ages of six to 16. If you have children who are five or older, you’ll need to enrol them in school once they arrive. Don’t worry if they arrive after the school term has started, as schools are very flexible about this. Your school-age child will need to apply for a student visa.

All school-aged children of New Zealand Scholarship Programme students are considered to be ‘domestic students’—the same as New Zealand children. This means that you will not have to pay international tuition fees for your children.

Apart from this difference, all other information related to schooling is the same as for other international University students with school-aged children.