New Zealand set to open borders for international students

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New Zealand set to open borders for international students

“New Zealand is in demand and now fully open for business,” PM Jacinda Ardern said on May 11 to the press. With this statement, she announced New Zealand is all set to reopen its international border to all tourists and visa holders two months earlier than planned.

While talking to the press, New Zealand Education Minister Chris Hipkins also announced some changes to New Zealand’s immigration policy. He said these changes aim to “simplify the immigration process” while simultaneously “shut the backdoor route to residency.” As per the statements made by Mr Hipkins, this reopening will allow for a sustainable rebuilding of the international education sector.

Meanwhile, more than 5,000 international students have already confirmed their entry by mid-July. Universities New Zealand, the organization representing New Zealand’s universities, has also called for an extension of the 5,000 student limit by the start of the second semester in July and August.

New post-study work rules in New Zealand

Mr Hipkins said that education for international students would have new and tighter post-study work rights rules. The bar for admission requirements will rise in the financial resources area, and the amendments will change the volume-over-value approach. The previous rules played a role as a backdoor to residency for the skilled and migrant workers, which caused exploitation. The new rules are made to avoid such circumstances. 

Students pursuing degree courses will be eligible for post-study work rights, but those pursuing non-degree courses will not be permitted to work in the country. However, some exceptional cases will be allowed if their qualification is related to the occupation on the new immigration Green List that represents labour market skills shortages. 

The Green List prepared by the NZ immigration office includes 85 occupations. The list will provide a prioritized pathway to residency looking for high skilled healthcare, engineers, trade and tech-sector workers to relocate to the country for a longer period.

On the other hand, graduate students will receive three years of post-study work permits. But again, there will be no provision to apply for a second permit. The country has taken this step to reduce the length of time someone can work in New Zealand and not apply for an Accredited Employer Work Visa. 

Universities in New Zealand are ranked in the top 500 around the world. However, the Universities have noticed that the country has to do a lot of catching up compared to the main competitor countries, the US, UK, Canada and Australia. These countries reopened to international students last year. The Universities are excited and fully prepared to welcome the international students back as they are missing the vibrancy and diversity on the campus. 

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