Changes to post-study work rights for international students

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post study work rights for international studentsNew Zealand has announced a range of changes to the post-study work rights for international students.

These changes have been made for a number of reasons. Most significant, is New Zealand’s desire to reduce student exploitation and to encourage study in all regions.

The changes also support the government’s broader plans for a high-quality international system in order to generate educational, economic, social and cultural benefits to New Zealand.

What are the changes?

The most significant change to the post-study work rights for international students is the removal of post-study work visas to be sponsored by a specific employer.

Other changes include:

  • One-year post-study open work visa: For students studying Level 4 – 6 and non-degree Level 7 qualifications. Graduate Diploma graduates who are working towards registration with a professional or trade body gets an additional year.
  • Two-year post-study open work visa: For students studying Level 4 – 6 and non-degree Level 7 qualifications outside Auckland. This is provided the study is completed by December 2021. At this point, the post-study work rights revert to a one-year post-study open work visa for students studying Level 4 – 6 and non-degree Level 7 qualifications. Graduate Diploma graduates who are working towards registration with a professional or trade body again gets an additional year.
  • Three-year post-study open work visa: For degree Level 7 or above qualifications.
  • International students studying Level 8 qualifications must be in an area specified on the Long Term Skills Shortage List in order for their partner to be eligible for an open work visa, and in turn the couples’ dependent children to be eligible for fee-free domestic schooling.
  • A 3-year, time-limited incentive to study outside of Auckland.

What will the effects of the changes be?

On the positive side, the New Zealand government hopes that the post-study work rights changes will reduce the exploitation of students by unscrupulous employers, education providers, and agents.

The changes will hopefully also have a positive effect on New Zealand by:

  • Attracting international students studying at higher levels.
  • Contributing the skills and qualifications New Zealand needs;
  • Supporting the government’s wider economic goal of growing the regions; and
  • Ensuring a high-quality international education sector.

However, it has been estimated that first-time student visas will see a drop in the range of 1200 to 600. Based on the desire to attract students studying at higher levels, though, this could be a knock New Zealand is willing to take.

When are the changes coming into effect?

The changes to the post-study work rights will come into effect on 26 November 2018. The changes will not affect:

  • Current post-study work visa holders;
  • Current students who are undertaking a qualification that, once completed, will meet the current qualification requirements as set out in current immigration settings.

Questions? Call us

If you have any questions on the post-study work rights, please do not hesitate to contact us. You can email us or call us on +27 (0) 202 8200. Our advisers will also be able to advise on student visas and their requirements.

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