Changes proposed for international student post-study work rights

  • Hon Iain Lees-Galloway

Proposals to change student post-study work rights announced today will help eliminate migrant exploitation and make sure that migrants granted residency contribute the skills that New Zealand needs, says Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway.

“Too many students are being sold a false dream in New Zealand that the current post-study work rights can put students on a fast track to residency here.

“This has led to a decline in the general skill level of migrants granted permanent residency, and fraudulent and frankly unethical behaviour from some agents, employers and education providers has led to students being exploited.

“The proposed changes remove the requirement for post-study work visas to be sponsored by a particular employer. There have been too many cases where migrant workers have been subject to exploitation because they are dependent on a particular employer to stay in the country. 

“Alongside this, I propose to limit the length of post-study work visas for courses below degree level to one year and remove post-study work rights for courses of less than two years in duration.  Graduates can apply for other visas at the end of their post-study work visa but will need to meet the usual skills and labour market tests.

“Work experience in New Zealand is important to many students who come here to study.  My proposals retain this while restricting an avenue of exploitation.

“The public will have the chance to have its say on these changes with consultation opening on Tuesday 5 June.

“International education is a significant service export industry and the Government remains committed to ensuring it remains an attractive and credible offering. Immigration settings are a crucial component to achieve this aim.

“These proposed changes, if adopted, will not affect current student visas or post-study visas.

“We must protect our reputation by ensuring that the students who are coming here are motivated by a great education and a positive experience,” says Iain Lees-Galloway.

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.

Further information about the consultation can be found at MBIE’s website