New Zealand tightens student visa regime

New Zealand visa shake-up
Poster protesting earlier New Zealand Government moves to tighten visa regime. Source: Defsec Media

The New Zealand Government today announced changes to immigration settings that will affect post-study work rights for international students.

Fit for purpose

According to the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), the changes are intended to ensure that post-study pathways for international students are fit-for-purpose and contribute the skills and qualifications New Zealand needs.

Changes at a glance

Following public consultation, the Government has come up with the following changes to immigration settings:

  • 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 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;
  • to 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 which 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;
  • 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.

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