New Zealand – Changes to post-study work rights for international students

The changes are:

  • to remove the employer-assisted post-study work visas at all levels;
  • to provide a one-year post-study open work visa for students studying Level 4 – 6 and non-degree Level 7 qualifications, with an additional year for Graduate Diploma graduates who are working towards registration with a professional or trade body;
  • to provide a two-year post-study open work visa for students studying Level 4 – 6 and non-degree Level 7 qualifications outside Auckland, provided study is completed by December 2021, at which point the entitlement for post-study work rights reverts to a one-year post-study open work visa for students studying Level 4 – 6 and non-degree Level 7 qualifications with an additional year for Graduate Diploma graduates who are working towards registration with a professional or trade body;
  • to provide a three-year post-study open work visa for degree Level 7 or above qualifications; and
  • to require international students studying Level 8 qualifications to 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 partners’ dependent children to be eligible for fee-free domestic schooling.

These changes come into effect on 26 November 2018.

They are intended to support the attraction of international students studying at higher levels and preserve a pathway to residence for those with the skills and qualifications New Zealand needs, specifically through the link between more generous post-study work rights to higher level qualifications.

There has been significant growth in the international education sector over the last few years, especially in below degree level qualifications. As a result, there has been a decline in the skill level of people moving through the immigration system and granted permanent residency.

We want to ensure that post-study pathways for international students are fit-for-purpose and contribute the skills and qualifications New Zealand needs.

The Government wants to support the transition to these new immigration settings. These changes include a three year, time-limited incentive for international students to study outside Auckland. This is to ensure the benefits of international education are shared throughout all the regions of New Zealand, supporting the Government’s aims to lift regional investment, growth and productivity.

There is a three year sunset clause, to enable those parts of the sector that are most affected by the changes (Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) and Private Training Establishments (PTEs)) to be able to successfully transition, over time, to new immigration settings. It also supports the current ITP Roadmap 2020 work underway by the Tertiary Education Commission on the long-term viability of ITPs, while ensuring that Government goals for regional growth are not undermined.

These changes will be grand-parented, so they will not impact current post-study work visa holders or current students who are undertaking a qualification that (once completed) will meet the qualification requirements as set out in current immigration settings.

These changes 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.

NEW VISA APPLICANTS

This table applies if, on 8 August 2018, you did not hold a student visa and you did not have a student visa application accepted for processing by Immigration New Zealand.

If you’re planning to study towards the following qualification(s): And: Then on successful completion of your qualification(s) you may be eligible for a:
Level 7 Bachelor’s degree qualification or higher You study that qualification for at least 30 weeks in New Zealand Three-year open post-study work visa
Level 7 Graduate Diploma You study that qualification for at least 30 weeks in New Zealand One-year open post-study work visa, if you study in Auckland, and one additional year if you are working towards registration with a professional or trade body

Two-year open post-study work visa, if you study outside Auckland (excluding distance learning)*

Other non-degree Level 7 qualification You study that qualification for at least 30 weeks in New Zealand One-year open post-study work visa, if you study in Auckland

Two-year open post-study work visa, if you study outside Auckland (excluding distance learning)*

One qualification at Level 4-6 of a two-year duration You study that qualification for at least 60 weeks in New Zealand One-year open post-study work visa, if you study in Auckland

Two-year open post-study work visa, if you study outside Auckland (excluding distance learning)*

Two qualifications at Levels 4-6 You study each qualification for 30 weeks in New Zealand (60 weeks in total) and the second qualification is at a higher level than the first One-year open post-study work visa, if you study in Auckland

Two-year open post-study work visa, if you study outside Auckland (excluding distance learning)*

*To qualify for this, you must have successfully completed your qualification(s) by 31 December 2021. If you complete your qualification(s) after that date, you may be eligible for a one-year open post-study work visa, and one additional year if you are a Graduate Diploma graduate and you are working towards registration with a professional or trade body

From 2022, international students who complete qualifications at Levels 4 to 6, after two years’ study, or non-degree Level 7 qualifications will be eligible for a one-year post-study work visa, and if they have completed a Graduate Diploma that is used for registration with a professional or trade body, an additional one-year post-study work visa.

Students completing Level 7 degree qualifications or above will continue to be eligible for three-year post study work visas.

EXISTING STUDENT VISA HOLDERS

This table applies if, on 8 August 2018, you held a student visa or your student visa application had been accepted for processing by Immigration New Zealand

If you’re currently studying in New Zealand towards a: And: Then on successful completion of your qualification(s) from 26 November 2018 you may be eligible for a:
Level 7 Bachelor’s degree or above You study that qualification for at least 30 weeks in New Zealand Three-year post-study open work visa
Non-degree Level 7 qualification You study that qualification for at least 30 weeks in New Zealand Three-year post-study open work visa
One qualification at Level 4-6 You study that qualification for at least 60 weeks in New Zealand Three-year post-study open work visa
Two qualifications at Levels 4-6 You study each qualification for 30 weeks in New Zealand (60 weeks in total) and the second qualification is at a higher level than the first Three-year post-study open work visa

If you are granted a post-study work visa before 26 November 2018, you will be eligible for: either a one-year open work visa, or a two-year employer-assisted work visa. After 26 November 2018, you may be eligible to have the job and employer stated on your work visa removed, so you do not have to contact Immigration New Zealand if you change jobs or employers in the future.

EXISTING POST-STUDY WORK VISA HOLDERS

The following table applies if you hold a post-study work visa on 8 August 2018, or are granted a post-study work visa when these changes come into effect on 26 November 2018.

If you hold a: Then from 26 November 2018, you may be eligible:
One-year open post-study work visa For a further two-year open post-study work visa
Two-year employer-assisted post-study work visa To have the job and employer stated on your work visa removed, so you do not have to contact Immigration New Zealand if you change jobs or employers in the future. If you prefer, you can choose to keep your visa as it is.

Courtesy https://www.immigration.govt.nz/about-us/media-centre/news-notifications/post-study-work-rights-for-international-students-factsheet.pdf

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