You are a student in New Zealand and want to stay when you graduate?
To do this and get a job you’ll need a different type of visa. New Zealand’s immigration policies include a post-study work pathway for international students who have achieved a New Zealand qualification, to enable them to gain work experience in a field directly related to the studies they have completed.
Depending on your area of study, you may have the opportunity to stay and work in New Zealand for two years and possibly even gain residence.
Top choice: post-study work visas
First you need to apply for a post-study work visa and have it approved. The post-study work pathway has two steps:
1. Post-study work visa (open).
This visa gives you up to 12 months to get a job in a field related to your studies. While you are looking for a job in your field you are allowed to work in any job to support yourself.
To be eligible you must:
• Have successfully completed a qualification in NZ that meets the study to work qualification requirements.
• Apply no later than 3 months after the end date of the student visa for that qualification.
• Provide evidence of a minimum of NZ$4,200 available to maintain yourself during your 12 month stay
2. Post-study work visa (employer assisted).
This visa lets you stay in New Zealand to gain work experience in your field of study for a further two years. This visa relates to a specific job with a specific employer. If you have a job offer relevant to your studies when you finish studying you can apply directly for the Post-study work visa (employer assisted); you don’t need to have a Post-study work visa (open) first.
To be eligible you must:
• Have a qualification at level 7 or above on the NZ Qualification Framework and you have studied that qualification in NZ for at least 1 academic year, or
• A two year qualification at level 4 to 6 on the NZ Qualification Framework and you have studied that qualification in NZ for at least 2 academic years, or
• Have two qualifications at levels 4 to 6 on the NZ Qualification Framework and each required at least one academic year study in NZ, provided the second qualification is at a higher level ( 2 years study in NZ in total)
3. Or another type of temporary work visa
You may be able to apply for another type of temporary work visa. However, you must first have an offer of employment from an NZ employer. The job offer must be in an area of skills shortage, must meet one of a number of special visas, or the employer must be able to show that they have already genuinely tried to find a NZ worker. Whatever option applies, you will need to meet the current visa requirements.
4. End goal: Residence visa
After your Post-study work visa or Work visa you may well find you have sufficient points to apply for a New Zealand resident visa under the Skilled Migrant Category. If your job is in an occupation that has skill shortages, then this greatly improves your chances.
If it is your plan from the outset to apply for a residence visa then you need to think very carefully about the type of qualifications you want to obtain and the type of work experience you get. When it comes to applying for residence you may need to show work experience that is directly relevant to your qualifications. So, for example, if you have a Diploma in Business Management you may need to show a working history in leadership roles rather than, say, general labouring in a kiwi fruit pack house.
Whatever visa you apply for, you’ll need to meet health and character requirements.