Important changes to immigration laws in NZ in 2018
The New Zealand government announced changes to the country’s post-study work visa policy to ensure that post-study pathways for international students are fit for purpose and provide the skills and qualifications New Zealand needs. The changes were announced in August and came into effect on 26 November 2018.
The change effectively removes the employer-assisted post-study work visas at all levels and provides 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. It also provides a 2-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 1-year Post-study open work visa; and a 3-year Post-study open work visa for degree Level 7 or above qualifications. Students studying Level 8 qualifications are required to be in an area specified on the Long Term Skill Shortage list in order for their partner to be eligible for an open work visa.
In June 2018, the changes to the Skilled Migrant points system and work visa rules that were announced in April 2017 were implemented. The most fundamental changes are firstly that salary bands were introduced as a surrogate for assessment of skill and secondly that the only work experience that is now recognised in a residence case is that which is also assessed as a skill. The salary band thresholds make it much harder for immigrants to meet the criteria.