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NZ Minister Consults on work-rights of International Students

June 2018, 02
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Facts of the case

International students reaching NZ for studying courses of less than two years will not get any post-study rights. Iain Lees-Galloway the Immigration Minister started the process of consultation regarding proposed changes on the post-study working rights of international students.

These changes aim to eliminate exploitation of migrants and also ensure that the migrants who get residency can make a contribution of the skills, which is the need of New Zealand. Several students get a false assurance in New Zealand that the present post-study work rights put them on a quick path to get residency he said. Moreover, it has resulted in a decline of skill levels among migrants who received permanent residence. Additionally the international students are exploited by fraudulent agents, education providers and employers.

The proposed changes

The proposed changes seek the removal of post-study work visas getting sponsored by a particular employer.
Students who complete low-grade courses must take up studying for at least two years to get working rights.
The students studying level 8 or 9 qualifications must seek admission in a course specific to the long-term skills shortage list. This will ensure that their partners are eligible to get an open work visa and the children are enrolled in free schooling.
There are several cases where migrant workers are exploited because they depend on a particular employer for staying in the country.

Work experience in New Zealand is a leading factor for many students to study in the country. The proposals answer this concern and also restrict the scope for exploitation.

People are getting a chance to comment on these changes from June 5th.

Exploitation and mismanagement

Chris Whelan, Executive Director, Universities New Zealand says that in the previous system some unscrupulous employers exploited the students. In turn such students tried to get jobs having qualifications for which no real demand existed.
The changes aim to make things simple for students, and encourage them to seek qualifications which lead towards meaningful jobs. Furthermore this will help the employers to deal with skill shortages effectively. Moreover it will be beneficial to the country.

June Ranson NZAMI chair said that these changes attempt to solve issues but she has a worry regarding the international students who presently stay here or completed their studies recently.

Several foreign students seeking education in the country today are unable to stay in NZ, because they cannot find a proper job that is relevant to their area of studies.

Offering suitable remedies

Additionally the association urges the Government to offer extended study and seek the qualifications that are relevant to labour market of the country. The cost needs to be low for students who faced exploitation in the past. Moreover this development has damaged the reputation of New Zealand as a good country to seek international education. Such offer will reduce that damage and restore the faith also. The Minister of Education must consider the extension of educational courses.

The minister also assured that the working rights for the international students already in the country will be maintained. The new rules will apply for the future students, who arrive from next year onwards.

The proposed changes

The proposed changes for consultation include:

• Removing the requirement of sponsoring by a particular employer for post-study work visas
• Providing a one-year post-study work visa for non-degree level 7 qualifications
• Providing a three-year post-study work visa for degree level 7 or higher qualifications
• Requiring students completing a non-degree level 7 qualification to take up two years of study to acquire eligibility for post-study working rights, and
• Requiring international students who are studying level 8/9 qualifications to exist in an area that is specified in the Long Term Skills Shortage List

This will help their partner to be eligible for an open work visa, and the partner's dependent children will also be eligible for free compulsory schooling.

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