From 26 November 2018, employers will no longer able to employ students on a Post Study Work Visa.
This visa was available to migrants who were on a Post Study Work Visa after completing their studies in New Zealand. The original intent of this visa was to allow students to get relevant work experience in New Zealand, with the hope that they will be attractive to New Zealand employers. This in turn, would give a pathway to residence for skilled migrant workers who trained in New Zealand.
However, this visa allowed a darker side of New Zealand’s businesses to emerge. Migrants on this visa were tied to the employer, and did not have the option to leave if they were being mistreated. This in turn led to multiple employers breaching their employment obligations to these migrant workers, who felt that they could not speak out for fear of losing their job and right to remain in New Zealand. In some instances, migrants were also being asked to pay a fee to the employer in return for a job that would qualify for this visa type.
This type of exploitation is unacceptable, and the Government has now changed the post study visa regime to remove any kind of employer specific work conditions. Students will now be eligible for open work visas for up to three years, depending on the level of study they complete.
There is a transition period to allow the various education providers who are most affected by this change to adjust. Migrants currently on Post Study work visa’s will not be affected by the changes. However, they will have the right to have the job and employer stated on their visa removed if they wish to.
Existing student visa holders will now be eligible for a three year open work visa. New visa applicants who study below a level 7 Bachelor’s degree will generally gain a one year work visa once their studies finish. Bachelor’s students and above will be able to apply for a three year work visa.
Partners of students face big changes too. Students studying at Level 7 or 8 with a qualification on the Long Term Skill Shortage List, or students studying at Level 9 or 10 are the only ones that will be able to support a work visa application by their partner. Anyone else who wishes to join their partner whilst they are on this post study work visa will have to apply using their own skills and qualifications as the basis for the application.