New Zealand proposes changes to work rights for international graduates

The New Zealand government is to introduce a new set of work and immigration rules beginning from the next year. The government plans to balance two goals: 1) reducing net migration, and 2) encouraging skilled international graduates to join the country’s labor force.

The immigration minister has introduced a new set with varied implications for students studying short-term non-degree courses and pursuing programs at the bachelor’s level or above. The new rules states:

  • Students who have completed non-degree courses of less than two years will no longer be able to work in New Zealand;
  • Students who have completed degrees at Level 7 (bachelors) or above will be eligible for three years of work with any employer in New Zealand.

The government aims to cut off a certain immigration stream where people who enroll in short-term courses in order to work and ultimately obtain residency in New Zealand. They intend to cut net migration number by up to 30,000.

Along with the post-study rights, the rules for spouse and dependent children are also going to change. The students will have to be studying in the area specified in the Long Term Skill Shortage list for their partners to be eligible for work permit and children to be eligible for free schooling.

The four proposals for which the government is now inviting public feedback to intend to imply the following:

  1. Remove employer-assisted post-study work visas at all levels;
  2. Retain a one-year post-study open work visa for non-degree Level 7 or below qualifications;
  3. Provide a three-year post-study open work visa for degree Level 7 or above qualifications;
  4. Require students completing non-degree Level 7 or below qualifications to undertake at least two years of study to be entitled to post-study work rights.
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