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New Zealand Immigration tightens student visa rules


Immigration New Zealand has announced significant changes to requirements for the study to work visa and student policies that will come into effect from 25 July 2011. The changes have been done to attract more genuine students, and facilitate pathways to work and residence for highly skilled graduates.


The changes to New Zealand Study to Work visa means that student will need to study in New Zealand for at least two years or post-graduation to qualify for three years post study work visas, including one year open search visa and two years graduate work visa.


At the same time, students who obtain a second, higher qualification at bachelor’s degree or postgraduate level will be able to obtain a second one year Graduate Job Search Visa in contrast to current policy wherein student could avail this visa only once.


Predominantly, students holding New Zealand qualifications or students who are currently studying towards New Zealand qualifications will not be affected by changes to the Study to Work instructions or the points available under the Skilled Migrant Category. The students who will enroll now for a new course beginning after 25 July will be affected by the announced changes.


Immigration Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman says ensuring students are genuinely here to study, and enabling the best students to stay on and contribute to New Zealand’s skilled workforce, benefits the sector’s reputation and New Zealand’s economy. ‘’The majority of people are here to legitimately study, but some just see a student visa as a short cut to gaining access to New Zealand,’’ Dr Coleman says.


‘’Some education providers have been enrolling students who are not capable of successfully completing their courses, have poor attendance and who are recording poor learning outcomes’. Among the other significant changes announced today, applicants claiming bonus points for having obtained recognized a New Zealand qualification must have a Bachelor’s degree or post graduate qualification.


Changes have been made regarding funds required for student visa applicants that will increase from current $ 10,000 per year to $ 15,000 per year for courses 36 weeks or longer.  This change won’t be implemented until March 2012.


It is pertinent to mention here that New Zealand’s international student population has grown rapidly in recent years especially from India. India has overtaken Japan to be New Zealand’s third largest source of international students, having increased their numbers by almost 350 percent since 2006.

Almost 11,600 Indian students were enrolled in New Zealand in 2010. The majority was at private education providers, and an increasing number were also enrolling at polytechnics and institutes of technology to study one year Graduate Diplomas.

Rajni Bhatla, Director of Kampus Landing one of the leading overseas education consultants in India  says, “India’s wealth creation in the last decade has given the leverage to the middle class to send more students overseas for undergraduate education, and many are choosing to study in New Zealand level 5 or level 6 one year courses at PTEs. With these changes, it is evident that New Zealand wants to promote itself as a quality education destination and keep a strong tap on its private players in the education field.”




Tejal Laul is the Director and co founder of Kampus Landing – Global Education specialists with offices in the UK, USA & India. She has been an international student in the UK and the USA and has worked in International Offices of colleges both in the UK and the US. With over 10 years of experience in study abroad consulting, she has guided thousand of Indian students realize their dreams of studying abroad.

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