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Changes to post-study work rights for international students Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Following a public consultation, Government has come up with changes to immigration settings that impact post-study work rights for international students.

The changes are:

  • 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 - 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 - 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 - 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.

These changes come into effect on 26 November 2018.

They are intended to support the attraction of international students studying at higher levels and preserve a pathway to residence for those with the skills and qualifications New Zealand needs, specifically through the link between more generous post-study work rights to higher level qualifications.

There has been significant growth in the international education sector over the last few years, especially in below degree level qualifications. As a result, there has been a decline in the skill level of people moving through the immigration system and granted permanent residency.

We want to ensure that post-study pathways for international students are fit-for-purpose and contribute the skills and qualifications New Zealand needs.

The Government wants to support the transition to these new immigration settings. These changes include a three year, time-limited incentive for international students to study outside Auckland. This is to ensure the benefits of international education are shared throughout all the regions of New Zealand, supporting the Government's aims to lift regional investment, growth and productivity.

There is a three year sunset clause, to enable those parts of the sector that are most affected by the changes (Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) and Private Training Establishments (PTEs)) to be able to successfully transition, over time, to new immigration settings. It also supports the current ITP Roadmap 2020 work underway by the Tertiary Education Commission on the long-term viability of ITPs, while ensuring that Government goals for regional growth are not undermined.

These changes will be grand-parented, so they will not impact current post-study work visa holders or current students who are undertaking a qualification that (once completed) will meet the qualification requirements as set out in current immigration settings.

These changes support the Government's broader plans for a high quality international system in order to generate educational, economic, social and cultural benefits to New Zealand.

Further information

Student factsheet PDF 205KB

Media factsheet PDF 772KB

Frequently Asked Questions PDF 519KB

Other languages

Student factsheet – Hindi PDF 287KB

Student factsheet – Japanese PDF 868KB

Student factsheet – Korean PDF 376KB

Student factsheet – Malaysian PDF 254KB

Student factsheet – Tagalog PDF 255KB

Student factsheet – Thai PDF 309KB

Student factsheet – Traditional Chinese PDF 488KB

Student factsheet – Vietnamese PDF 311KB