New Zealand immigration authorities restarted processing student and tourist visas on July 31, 2022, signaling “the complete return of foreign education,” according to the government.
This is sooner than the administration had previously said in October. In addition, 5,000 students will enter the country through a border exemption in the following weeks when their visas are accepted. Visas for this group are already being processed.
International students entering New Zealand may expect stricter post-study employment rights laws and increased financial resource requirements.
New Post-Study Work Rights Guidelines
The government also provided information on future post-study work rights for overseas students. Degree students will continue to be eligible for post-study employment privileges. Still, non-degree students will only be allowed to work if their qualification is connected to an occupation on the new Green List. The categories of the latter correlate to labour market skill shortages. These students must work in one of the occupations on the Green List.
According to the government, the Green List covers 85 jobs and “would provide a simplified and prioritized road to residence incentivizing high skilled doctors, engineering, trade, and tech sector employees to come to New Zealand long term.”
Graduate students are eligible for post-study employment for three years.
Students can’t seek a second work permit. “This is to shorten the amount of time that someone may work in New Zealand without applying for an Accredited Company Work Visa, where the employer must first examine if a New Zealander is available to undertake the job,” the government said.
More Financial Resources Will Be Needed For Students
Aside from the 5,000 students admitted under the “cohort 4” classification, overseas students will now be required to show that they have sufficient means to meet the living costs of studying in New Zealand. Higher education and English-language students will need to prove NZ$20,000 in resources yearly, while elementary and secondary students need to show NZ$17,000. Previously, NZ$15,000 per year was required regardless of the study degree.
Students must also pay the tuition fee for their first year of education (or the first program they pursue if it is shorter).
In addition, students who transfer to a work permit must present NZ$5,000 in finances.
The immigration restrictions affecting incoming overseas students reflect the New Zealand government’s commitment to linking immigration to economic goals and reducing the influx of low-skilled migrants.
“New Zealand cannot return to pre-pandemic tendencies that saw us unduly reliant on expanding numbers of lower-skilled employees and resulting in the increased exploitation of migrants,” said Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi.
“We realize that access to skilled labor is a big barrier for business,” Prime Minister Jacinda Arden stated. This [immigration] proposal would expand the available labor pool and hasten our tourist rebound.”
In the end, international students seem welcome to study in any field in New Zealand and enjoy their time there. However, those whose studies match the country’s labor market needs will have a much better chance of working in or moving to New Zealand.