Changes to post study work visa

New requirements for New Zealand’s Post Study Work Visa came into effect on 7 September.  

Previously, people holding a Post Study Work Visa were able to work in any role, for any employer, anywhere in New Zealand. Under the new settings, their visa duration will be determined by course/duration of study and for some they will only be able to work in prescribed occupations. 

The changes apply to anyone who has applied for a student visa after 11 May 2022. 

These changes include:

  • The duration of Post Study Work Visas being the same as the duration of study in New Zealand for level 8 and below students. Masters and doctoral students are eligible for 3-year visas.
  • Conditions of Post Study Work Visas that are dependent on the qualification that the applicant has gained in New Zealand. People who studied at non-degree levels 4-7 may only work in a field directly linked to their area of study.
  • New eligibility requirements for people who studied non-degree levels 4-7. To be eligible, their qualification must be on the Qualifications Eligible for a Post Study Work Visa list.
  • There are also transitional arrangements for students who applied for their Student Visa on or before 11 May 2022, and for students who have been granted a Student Visa as part of the border exception for 5,000 students (cohort 4). In both cases students must have studied an acceptable qualification.
  • Changes have also been made to the eligibility criteria of partners of Student Work Visa holders to replace references to the Long-Term Skill Shortage List with the Green List.

Why the change?

In a nutshell, the objective of the changes is to improve the qualification level of international students that come into New Zealand – so that we’re attracting students who are going to study higher qualifications that might benefit New Zealand more. 

What it means for partners

The changes also restrict the work rights to partners who accompany their Student Visa partner, so it’s now being confined to more ‘serious’ qualifications rather than just any qualification that would have gain a student points and a residence process allowing their spouse to get a work visa. 

Partners of students who started their study before 7 September 2022 remain eligible for open work rights while their partner completes their course. These transitional arrangements will be in place for three years. 

Closing the door on dodgy education agents 

Looking back at pre-Covid times, we had longstanding issues of unscrupulous overseas education agents exploiting students by pushing them into inappropriate courses and making misleading claims about achieving residency. This was also resulting in a lot of low skilled, low qualified migrants being exploited in jobs that paid next to nothing.  

So essentially, it’s closing the door to the perception that studying in New Zealand and getting a post-study work right was a back door for residency in New Zealand. 

Looking for help with your visa application? Contact the team at NZIL for expert advice and support for your pathway to working or living in New Zealand. 

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