Changes to New Zealand Post Study Visas Coming – June 2018

The post-study work visas currently allow international students who have completed their qualification in New Zealand with the opportunity to gain practical experience in their chosen field. There are 2 streams, namely:

  • An initial one-year open work visa which entitles the student to work for any employer;
  • A two-year employer-assisted work visa which entitles the student to work in a role in the same area as their qualification.

To be eligible for a study to work visa, students must have completed a qualification that is either:

  • A level 7 or higher qualification that involved a single course of 30 weeks or more in NZ;
  • A level 4-6 qualification that involved a single course in NZ of 60 weeks or more;
  • Two or more level 4-6 qualifications that each involved 30 weeks or more of study in NZ, where the level of the last qualification is higher than the first; or
  • A National Certificate (level 4) or NZ Certificate (level 40 relevant to an occupation on Part B or C of the ‘List of Skilled Occupations’ that involved a single course in NZ of 60 weeks or more.

The NZ government has now proposed some changes to the post-study work visas which were being considered a pathway to residency. The proposal is to take away the requirement of getting post-study work visas sponsored by any particular employer. Reason for this proposal is to help eliminate migrant exploitation. This means that the employer-assisted post-study work visa category may be removed, and applicants will have to go through the usual labour market test to get their visa extended.

As per MBIE website, there are four proposed changes to the settings for post-study work rights to better align with the Government’s objectives. These are as follows:

  • Proposal One: to remove employer assisted post-study work visas at all levels
  • Proposal Two: to provide a one-year open work visa post-study for non-degree level 7 or below
  • Proposal Three: to provide a three-year open work visa post-study for degree level 7 or above
  • Proposal Four: to require students studying at non-degree level 7 (such as graduate diplomas) to study in New Zealand for at least two years to be entitled to post-study work visas (this aligns with current sub-degree requirements)

MBIE is consulting on above proposals. Full details can be found on this link.

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