Post-Study Work Rights of International Students

In August the Minister of Immigration announced changes to the post-study work rights of international students, to take effect on 26 November this year.

Those changes are as follows:

  • Employer-specific post-study work visas will no longer be issued; all post-study work visas will be open, allowing holders to work for any employer.
  • For student visa holders after 26 November, the length of a post-study visa will be determined by the level of the qualification studied:
    • Students studying Level 4 to 6 qualifications and non-degree Level 7 qualifications will be eligible for a one-year work visa. If studying outside of Auckland they will be eligible for a two-year work visa, provided their course will be completed by December 2021.
    • Students studying non-degree Level 7 qualifications and working towards registration with a professional or trade body will be eligible for a two-year work visa.
    • Students studying degree-level or higher (Levels 7 to 10) qualifications will be eligible for a three-year work visa, regardless of location.
  • Postgraduate degree (Level 8) students will need to be studying towards a qualification in an area on the long term skills shortage list in order to support their partners for an open work visa, and for their dependent children to be eligible for fee-free domestic schooling.

For those who held or had applied for student visas or post-study visas as at 8 August (the day the changes were announced), the transition policy is as follows:

  • Student visa holders who will complete their qualifications after 26 November will be eligible for a three-year open work visa upon completion of their study.
  • Those who hold post-study open work visas valid at 26 November will be eligible to apply for a further two-year open work visa, after 26 November.
  • Those who hold post-study employer-assisted work visas valid at 26 November will be able to have the employer condition removed from their visas, meaning they can work for any employer.

The stated aims of these changes are to ensure that post-study pathways for international students contribute the skills and qualifications New Zealand needs; to ensure the integrity of our international education sector; and to minimise the risk of students being exploited by unscrupulous employers and education providers.

For personalised advice on all immigration issues please contact Julia Lang or one of the Immigration team at Saunders & Co.