Foreign student rules to change

The Government has announced that new rules will take effect in November concerning the rights of students to work here, whilst studying. The rules, which were announced by the Minister for Immigration, Iain Lees-Galloway today are intended to address the periods in which students can work in New Zealand after completing study.

The rules for foreign students studying in New Zealand have long been the source of controversy. It has ranged from students trying to do engage in paid work whilst in the country encountering exploitative employers to dodgy visas issued by immigration consultants who should have never been in the business in the first place.

Now they are changing. The new plans are a confirmation of the Government’s intention to steer students away from studying in Auckland by using a carrot and stick approach. The stick is that students who study in Auckland will only be permitted to work for a year in New Zealand after they complete their studies. The carrot is that a student who studies somewhere else – say Christchurch – can work for two years in New Zealand after they complete their studies.

Due to Auckland having the largest international airport in New Zealand it tends to be a magnet for students coming to study in New Zealand. This is largely because of the opportunities, perceived or otherwise, a lack of understanding about the rest of New Zealand and what provinces outside of Auckland have to offer.

Original proposals to change the rules were roundly panned by both the Opposition, industry leaders and and analysts. It was estimated that they would have cost New Zealand $1 billion per annum and have resulted in 44,000 fewer students studying in New Zealand each year..

The new rules will include:

  1. Students studying for qualifications outside of Auckland at Levels 4-6 will be permitted to work for 2 years provided study is completed before the end of 2021. After that point, they are permitted to work for one year. These changes are also applicable to non-degree Level 7 courses.
  2. Students in Auckland studying Levels 4-6 and 7 (non degree courses only) will be able to work for one year
  3. Those studying at Level 8 however must be developing a skill that is on the Long Term Skills Shortage list. This is a list of skills where New Zealand anticipates having long term shortages of people with them.


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