The New Zealand Government has announced positive changes to post-study
work (PSW) rights for international students coming to study in New Zealand,
ensuring that post-study pathways benefit international students and
employers by contributing skills and qualifications that New Zealand needs.
These changes come into effect from 26th November 2018.
The following guidelines have been confirmed by New Zealand Immigration for
the PSW visa:
- To provide a three-year post-study open work visa for degree Level 7
or above qualifications
- To provide a one-year post-study open work visa for students
studying Level 4 to 6 and non-degree Level 7 qualifications with an
additional year for Graduate Diploma graduates who are working towards
registration with a professional or trade body
- To provide a two-year post-study open work visa for students
studying Level 4 to 6 and non-degree Level 7 qualifications outside
Auckland, provided study is completed by December 2021, at which point the
entitlement for post-study work rights reverts to a one-year post-study open
work visa for students studying Level 4 to 6 and non-degree Level 7
qualifications with an additional year for Graduate Diploma graduates who
are working towards registration with a professional or trade body
- To require international students studying Level 8 qualifications to
be in an area specified on the Long Term Skills Shortage list in order for
their partner to be eligible for an open work visa, and in turn the
partners’ dependent children to be eligible for fee-free domestic schooling
- To remove the employer-assisted post-study work visas at all levels
- These changes come into effect on 26 November 2018
- All students who submitted a student visa application prior to 8
August 2018 will have their work rights assessed as per the old regulations
For current students in New Zealand these changes will be grand-parented,
meaning that the change will not impact current post-study work visa holders
or current students who are undertaking a qualification that (once
completed) will meet the qualification requirements set out in current
What do “open” work rights or conditions mean?
“Open” work rights/conditions mean that your visa is not linked to any
employer. You can work in almost any job, for any employer, anywhere in New
Zealand. You can use your post- study work visa to get some valuable New
Zealand work experience.
How do I apply for a post-study work visa?
The process of applying for a post-study work visa is not changing. Contact
us to enquire about the easiest way to apply for the PSW visa.
Transitional policy for current students
There are special requirements for people who on 8 August 2018 have applied
for or who hold a student visa for an eligible course of study (a level 4 to
10 course in New Zealand. These requirements ensure a seamless transition to
the new immigration settings.
I currently hold a student visa for tertiary study, what work rights will I
be eligible for once I graduate?
If you successfully complete an eligible qualification and you meet INZ’s
standard post-study work visa requirements, you will be eligible for a three
year open post-study work visa. ‘Eligible qualifications’ are qualifications
at levels 4 to 10 on the New Zealand Qualification Framework and have a
minimum study duration requirement.
What happens if I take a break from my studies?
If you are a current student, a break from your studies might reduce the
amount of work rights you are eligible for.
If you are currently studying a level 4-6 qualification you will be
eligible for a three-year open work visa under the transitional policy if
you study for at least two consecutive years in New Zealand, and study for
at least 30 weeks in each year.
If you don’t study for two consecutive years or don’t study for at least 30
weeks in each year, then you won’t be eligible for a three-year open work
visa under the transitional policy.
If you are currently studying a level 7 or higher qualification and you
study this for at least 30 weeks in New Zealand, you will continue to be
eligible for a three-year open work visa.
I hold an open post-study work visa, how will these changes affect me?
If your open work visa is due to expire before the changes take effect on
26 November 2018, you will be eligible to apply for an employer assisted
post-study work visa before 26 November 2018. You will need a job offer
relevant to your qualification to apply for this. If you want to, you will
be able to apply for a variation of conditions to have the employer
conditions removed from your work visa when the changes come into effect on
26 November 2018.
As a student, am I able to support my partner’s work visa?
You can support your partner’s work visa application if you are studying a
Level 7 or 8 qualification provided the qualification is specified on the
Long Term Skill Shortage List, or a Level 9 or 10 qualification. If your
partner has dependent children, they will be eligible for fee- free primary
and secondary schooling.
People studying at levels 4 to 6 are not able to support their partner’s
work visa application, but their partner can apply for a visa in their own
This is great news for international students coming into New Zealand to
pursue their tertiary studies as it ensures that post-study pathways benefit
international students and employers by contributing skills and
qualifications that New Zealand needs.
If you would like to know more about how these changes impact you please
contact our office to speak with one of our advisors.