New Zealand Immigration


On 8 August 2018, the Minister of Immigration announced confirmed changes to the post study work visa rules, after a period of public consultation.

The confirmed changes are a lot less drastic than what was initially proposed.

Impetus for change

The current post study work visa regime has been encouraging sub-par education providers to offer low quality courses, with the attraction of New Zealand residence. This was selling a 'false dream' to international students and was not facilitating a pathway to residence for those students who are likely to contribute to the skills that New Zealand really needs.

A further concern was that migrant employees were regularly being exploited by their employers, who they were dependent on to remain in the country.

What are the confirmed changes?

  • Removing the requirement for graduates to be sponsored by an employer, at any level;
  • Three year open work visas for degree level qualifications and above;
  • Two year open work visas for Level 4 to 6 qualification graduates (or non-degree level 7) outside of Auckland, provided the degree is completed by December 2021;
  • One year open work visas for Level 4 to 6 qualification graduates (non-degree level 7) in Auckland, with an additional year for Graduate Diploma graduates working towards registration with a professional or trade body;
  • Requirement to be on the Long Term Skills Shortage list for students studying towards Level 8 qualifications who want to support their partner for an open work visa, or children for student visas allowing domestic status.

Who will be impacted?

  • Students looking to complete lower level qualifications, particularly in Auckland. Their post study work rights will be significantly limited.
  • Regional education providers and Universities can expect to receive a boost in international student numbers.
  • Students studying degree level or higher qualifications will benefit from three year open work visas, upon graduation.
  • Employers will have more flexibility to hire foreign workers on post study work visas, without the immigration paperwork.

The changes will be in place, from 26 November 2018.

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