Proposed changes announced earlier this week by Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway include the provision of a one-year post-study work visa for non-degree level 7 or below qualifications and a three-year post-study work visa for degree level 7 or above qualifications.

The requirement for post-study work visas to be sponsored by a particular employer could also be removed under the changes.

Minister Lees-Galloway said the proposals will help eliminate migrant exploitation and make sure that migrants granted residency contribute the skills that New Zealand needs.

“Too many students are being sold a false dream in New Zealand that the current post-study work rights can put students on a fast track to residency here.

“This has led to a decline in the general skill level of migrants granted permanent residency, and fraudulent and frankly unethical behaviour from some agents, employers and education providers has led to students being exploited.”

Universities New Zealand Executive Director Chris Whelan agrees the previous system permitted unscrupulous employers to exploit students.

“These changes simplify things for students, while encouraging them to get qualifications that will open doors to more meaningful jobs. That’s better for them; it’s better for the employers who are constantly dealing with skill shortages. And it’s therefore ultimately better for the country.

“While international education is a valuable export earner for New Zealand, this is about more than export earnings and migration. The two-way flow of people between New Zealand the rest of the world is critical for both New Zealand and its people,” says Whelan.

Julia Innocente-Jones, Assistant Vice-Chancellor (International) at Victoria University of Wellington agrees the proposed changes to work visa arrangements are great news for international university students. In 2017, there were more than 3,500 international students at Victoria and data indicates the number will be significantly higher for 2018.

“They would give all international students more freedom to secure the right role for themselves after they complete their studies and would also increase the amount of valuable New Zealand work experience degree-level or higher students could gain after completing their studies,” says Innocente-Jones.

The proposed changes, if adopted, will not affect current student visas or post-study visas. Consultation on the changes opened yesterday, 6 June.

The proposed changes going out for consultation include:

  • Remove the requirement for post-study work visas to be sponsored by a particular employer,
  • Provide a one-year post-study work visa for non-degree level 7 or below qualifications,
  • Provide a three-year post-study work visa for degree level 7 or above qualifications,
  • Require students completing non-degree level 7 or below qualifications to undertake at least two years of study in order to gain eligibility for post-study work rights, and,
  • Require international students studying level 8 or 9 qualifications to be in an area specified in the Long Term Skills Shortage List in order for their partner to be eligible for an open work visa, and in turn the partner’s dependent children to be eligible for fee-free compulsory schooling.

 

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