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New Zealand To Open For Foreign Students From July 31, Announces New Visa Rules

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Students planning to study in New Zealand universities can now expect a number of things to work in their favour. The country’s government has decided to advance the timelines for the arrival of international students and has come up with new rules regarding post-study work visas.

New Zealand will open its borders completely to international students from July 31, 2022 instead of the earlier October 2022 timeline. The country’s immigration department will start processing student visas by July 31, 2022.

It had also announced that 5,000 students will be allowed in the coming few weeks to enter once their visas are approved. This was under a border exception declared earlier.

Quick Facts

  • New Zealand will open its borders completely to international students from July 31, 2022 instead of the earlier October 2022 timeline.
  • The country’s immigration department will start processing New Zealand student visas by July 31, 2022.
  • There have also been amendments to post-study work rights and cost-of-living requirements for future students.

There have also been amendments to post-study work rights and cost-of-living requirements for future students. “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,” the NZ Immigration Department said in a statement.

Within the Immigration Rebalance, the post-study work settings are being altered and the finances required for student visa applicants to support their stay in New Zealand are being increased.

These changes are part of the New Zealand government education policy for international students which have been made to post-study work visa settings and will apply to any student visa applications received on or after May 11, 2022.

Those who are pursuing a bachelor’s, bachelor’s honours, postgraduate diploma, master’s or doctoral degree will still be eligible for post-study work rights provided they have studied full-time in New Zealand for a minimum of 30 weeks.

Students pursuing a qualification at Level 7 and below (excluding bachelor’s degrees) will only be eligible for post-study work rights if the qualification is relevant to an occupation on the Green List.

This change aims to align post-study work rights for non-degree study with skills New Zealand needs. It also addresses some unsustainable post-study working trends seen pre-COVID.

However, international students will no longer 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.

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

Students transitioning to post-study work visas from May 11 will need to show funds of $5,000. The funds requirements will be reviewed every three years to ensure that students continue to have reasonable expectations about the cost of living in NZ.

These changes are aligned with the guidance specified in the international education strategy and also due to the popularity of the New Zealand education system. The government’s announcement that borders will reopen fully from July 31, 2022 supports the international education sector in its rebuild. “This is a positive step forward and sends a strong signal that New Zealand is reopening fully to the world, including for international education,” said Education New Zealand (ENZ) Chief Executive, Grant McPherson. The announcement of the new immigration settings for students considering studying in New Zealand, gives greater clarity and certainty to education providers and students in their decision making. 

“We can now work together with the sector to rebuild our international education sector to be a major contributor to New Zealand. And look forward to students from all around the world enjoying the benefits of a New Zealand education, and New Zealanders enjoying the benefits these students bring to our communities,” said an ENZ spokesperson.

Some of the reasons Indian students opt to study in New Zealand is because they are ranked among the top 3% in the world. “Further, New Zealand and India have strengthened their academic ties in recent years. With the change in the education landscape, there is a fresh pool of talent in India that is eager to learn and get international exposure where New Zealand is the perfect choice as we offer modern, progressive, and ethnically diverse education destinations,” the spokesperson added. 

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