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INZ update - Students can apply for visas to come to New Zealand from 31 July

The Government has announced that the borders will now be fully reopened by the end of July which means the opening date for student visa categories has been brought forward from October.

The Government has already put in place a border class exception for 5,000 international students, which means they can come to New Zealand once their visas are granted.

The changes are part of the Immigration Rebalance, which is designed to make it easier to attract and hire high-skilled migrants. Settings are being changed for students, as well as for migrant workers and their partners and skilled residence pathways.

Basically, New Zealand is happy to welcome all international students; and also those who wish to study at non-degree levels in New Zealand at one of the many quality institutions. Many can work while studying. They can also still apply for another visa after their student visa, such as the Accredited Employer Work Visa, if they are eligible – including by being paid median wage or more in most cases.

FAQs - Important announcements by Immigration New Zealand for students

Q. What is the new opening date for student visa categories?

A. The opening date for student visa categories has been brought forward from October 2022 to 1 August 2022.

Q. What is Immigration Rebalance?

A. Immigration Rebalance has been designed to make it easier to attract and hire highly skilled migrants and students in New Zealand for their skilled residence pathways.

Under this, changes have been made to post-study work visa settings and the funds needed for student visa applicants to support their stay in New Zealand.

Q. As part of Immigration Rebalance, what changes have been made to Post-Study Work Visa?

A. Significant changes have been made to post-study work visa settings, which will apply to student visa applications received on or after 11 May 2022 not covered by transitional arrangements, including student visa applications from people in New Zealand. These are as follows:

- Students will be eligible for post-study work rights if they study a bachelor’s degree, bachelor honours degree, postgraduate diploma, master’s or doctoral degree full time in New Zealand for a minimum of 30 weeks.

- For, students who undertake a qualification at Level 7 and below (excluding bachelor’s degrees), they will only be eligible for post-study work rights if the qualification is relevant to an occupation on the Green List. This also includes Graduate Diplomas and Diplomas at level 7.

- Post study work rights for non-degree students pursuing Green List relevant qualifications will only allow the migrant to work in that occupation, though they can switch employers and work for less than the median wage.

- There are 20 roles on the Green List that have direct pathways from Level 7 and below level qualifications. These include: Construction Project Manager; Project Builder; 12 specific engineering roles; Civil Engineering Technician; Electrical Engineering Technician; Secondary School teacher; Early Childhood (Pre-primary School) Teacher; Automotive Electrician; Diesel Motor Mechanic.

Q. For what duration can a Post-Study Work Visa be now granted?

A. For most international students eligible for a Post-Study Work Visa, the duration of that work visa will now mirror the time they study in New Zealand, up to a maximum of three years. This change will not apply to Master’s and PhD students, who will continue to receive three years’ post-study work rights, as long as they have spent 30 weeks in New Zealand undertaking full-time study.

This change is about proportionality but also recognises the value to students and employers of experiencing New Zealand education in context.

Q. Can international students apply for a second post-study work visa?

A. No. International students would not be able to apply for a second post-study work visa. This is to reduce the length of time that someone can be working in New Zealand without applying for an Accredited Employer Work Visa, where the employer must first check if a New Zealander is available to do the job.

Q. Which students would still be considered under the ‘old’ post-study rules?

A. International students who have already commenced studying an eligible qualification under current settings, and who have applied for a visa or hold a visa for that specific study, will be considered under the ‘old’ post-study rules. This includes students who enter New Zealand under the latest border exception for 5,000 students, as long as they meet the educational requirements under the current settings. Students who have started a qualification offshore and who apply for a visa from 11 May will be considered under the new rules.

Q. Have any changes been made to the students in-study rights?

A. No, these remain as is and no changes have been made to in-study work rights for international students.

Q. What are new living expenses requirements for international students?

A. From 31 July 2022, fund requirements will increase as follows:

- From $15,000 to $20,000 per annum for prospective tertiary student visa applicants and to $17,000 for prospective international school students. These amounts will be prorated for shorter lengths of study.

- Students transitioning to post-study work visas from 11 May will need to show funds of $5,000.

- The Government will review funds requirements every three years to ensure that students continue to have reasonable expectations about the cost of living in NZ.


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