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This question already has an answer here:

Currently, my student visa is still pending for NZ. However, I have already bought my ticket and I'll be flying out in a week. I have a Malaysian passport and I am from a waiver free country and can visit NZ visa free. Would I be able to enter NZ with a visitor visa and, once my student visa has been approved, transfer the visa onto my passport?

marked as duplicate by Greg Hewgill, Giorgio, David Richerby, gmauch, bytebuster Oct 15 '18 at 0:29

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Im in the same boat, my work visa is pending and my flights are before itll get back. I phoned the NZ high commission in London and they said that I cannot enter NZ with a pending visa.

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New Zealand allows you to change your visa while in the country. From Can I apply for any other visa while on a visitor visa in New Zealand?:

Apply to stay longer

If you're already in New Zealand and have a visa you can reapply for the same visa or apply for a different one.

The above includes applications which are in process when you enter the country. Note that you may not get an actual visa sticker when you do get approved - they may simply send you an email confirming your change of status that is recorded in their system. If you need proof of your student visa status (for enrolling or whatever), print this out.

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    Hi there Greg thanks for your reply. However i am currently not in NZ and i am still awaiting for the visa. Would it be ok for me to enter the country under a visitor visa(whilst showing immigration my appropriate paperwork that i am actually going to study) whilst waiting for my student visa to be approved ? – Kenny Jun 22 '17 at 0:34

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