Post-study work rights emphasise skills NZ needs

Changes to post-study work rights will help ensure international students coming to New Zealand gain in-demand skills for our economic growth, incentivise study in the regions and help reduce the risk of student exploitation, Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said today.

“The Government has listened and acted on the feedback we’ve received in over 2000 submissions. Our changes to post-study work rights will boost New Zealand’s economy, reduce student exploitation and promote our regional education offerings.

“These new immigration settings will better match the skills that people study in New Zealand with the skills that employers need to grow their businesses.

“Our changes will support the attraction of international students studying at higher levels of study, and those who undertake high quality sub-degree courses that deliver the skills needed in our growing economy.

“The changes preserve a pathway to residence for people with the skills and qualifications New Zealand needs.

“They also provide time-limited incentives for students to study and work in the regions, boosting regional education providers and supporting our aims to lift regional investment and productivity.

“We understand that regional providers need time to transition. To support that transition, students who study sub-degree courses outside Auckland will be entitled to a two-year open work visa if they complete their qualification by December 2021.

“The changes will take effect in November 2018, with grand-parenting provisions that mean that international students who are currently in New Zealand will be better off as a result of these changes.

“The removal of employer-assisted post-study work rights at all levels will help reduce the risk of migrant exploitation, and better protect New Zealand’s international reputation.

“New Zealand is a nation that must compete on quality, not quantity. Our changes reinforce New Zealand’s attractiveness for international students and match up positively with our key comparator nations.

“The bums-on-seats approach championed by the previous Government is coming to an end,” says Iain Lees-Galloway.

The final changes to post-study work rights include:

  • remove the employer-assisted post-study work visas at all levels;
  • provide a one-year post-study open work visa for students studying Level 4 to 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;
  • provide a two-year post-study open work visa for students studying Level 4 to 6 and non-degree Level 7 qualifications outside Auckland provided study is completed by December 2021.
    • At this point the entitlement for post-study work rights reverts to a one-year post-study open work visa for students studying Level 4 to 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;
  • provide a three-year post-study open work visa for degree Level 7 or above qualifications; and
  • 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 for the partners’ dependent children to be eligible for fee-free domestic schooling.