The New Zealand Government announced on June 2 that they are planning to implement immigration policy changes that will potentially affect international students who wish to look for jobs in the country after completing short term courses of study. Students who have completed courses of less than two years duration will not be able to work in the country after completing their course, and they will also not be able to avail of sponsorship by employers. This move aims to address concerns about the declining skill levels of migrants who have been granted permanent residence in New Zealand.
Changes include the removal of the requirement for post-study work visas to be sponsored by a particular employer. Additionally, it is proposed to provide a one-year post-study work visa for non-degree level 7 or lesser qualifications, and a three-year post-study work visa for degree level 7 or above qualifications.
Students who have completed qualifications of non-degree level 7 or below will be required to study at least for two years so they gain eligibility for post-study work rights.
At present, graduate diplomas are listed under levels 5-6 and require one-year full-time study. A Bachelor’s degree is listed under level 7 and requires three years full-time study, while a master’s degree is listed at level 9 and requires two years full-time study. Currently, a post-study work visa (open) gives students up to 12 months to get a job in a field related to their studies, while a post-study work visa (employer assisted) lets students stay in New Zealand to gain work experience for a further two years (or three years if work experience is required as part of a professional registration).
Under the new rules, if the students want to continue on in New Zealand after one year of study, they will have to apply for a new visa that involves a skill that is genuinely in demand in the country. Those above bachelor level could work in New Zealand for up to three years with the employer’s endorsement.
International students who are already on work permits in the country will maintain their work rights. These new rules will apply to future students who come in from next year onwards.
It is expected that this proposal will affect 12,000 to 16,000 people, and will reduce the numbers of migrants to the country. The proposed changes have been welcomed by the New Zealand Association for Migration and Investment (NZAMI) and NZ’s universities.