The New Zealand government has introduced proposals to revise the country’s rules for post-study work rights for visiting students. Under the proposed changes, students who have completed non-degree courses of less than two years will no longer be able to work after their studies. However, students who have completed qualifications at the bachelor’s level or above will be eligible for up to three years of post-study work.
International students going to New Zealand to study will likely encounter a new set of work and immigration rules beginning next year as the government works at balancing two goals: (1) reducing net migration and (2) encouraging skilled international graduates to join the country’s labour force.
Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has introduced a set of proposals for new regulations with varied implications for students studying in short-term non-degree courses and those pursuing programmes at the bachelor’s level or above. Essentially:
- Students who have completed non-degree courses of less than two years will no longer be able to work in New Zealand;
- Students who have completed degrees at Level 7 (bachelor’s) or above will be eligible for three years of work with any employer in New Zealand.
The aim is to cut off a certain immigration stream: people who enroll in short-term courses because they want to work and ultimately obtain residency in New Zealand. The proposed changes dovetail with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s electoral campaign promise to cut net migration numbers by up to 30,000.
As well as changes to post-study work rights, new rules for spouses and dependent children of postgraduate international students in New Zealand are imminent. Postgraduate students will have to be studying in an area specified in the Long Term Skills Shortage List for their partners to be eligible for a work visa and for their children to be eligible for free schooling.
The proposed changes going out for consultation include:
- Remove the requirement for post-study work visas to be sponsored by a particular employer,
- Provide a one-year post-study work visa for non-degree level 7 or below qualifications,
- Provide a three-year post-study work visa for degree level 7 or above qualifications,
- Require students completing non-degree level 7 or below qualifications to undertake at least two years of study in order to gain eligibility for post-study work rights, and,
- Require international students studying level 8 or 9 qualifications to be in an area specified in the Long Term Skills Shortage List in order for their partner to be eligible for an open work visa, and in turn the partner’s dependent children to be eligible for fee-free compulsory schooling.