Visa News
March 17, 2022

Is Studying in NZ a Pathway to Residency?

Planning to apply for residence after studying in NZ? If you hold a Post-Study Work Visa, this could be a possibility. We explore the criteria here.
Is Studying in NZ a Pathway to Residency?
Is Studying in NZ a Pathway to Residency?

New Zealand’s world-class education system and relaxing outdoor lifestyle have made it one of the most appealing countries in the world to study. With border restrictions now lifting, the opportunity to study in New Zealand will soon open back up to students based overseas.

After spending time in New Zealand, many international students want to remain after their studies; some may even want to stay permanently. Here, we explore the pathway for gaining a student visa to resident visa in NZ.

Step 1: Get a Student Visa

A temporary student visa allows people from abroad to study in New Zealand; the length of your visa will depend on the length of your studies.

A student visa will have conditions linked to the course of study that fees were paid for. When a student wants to change courses or move onto the next stage of studies (e.g. completed bachelor’s degree now wanting to study a master's degree) then a variation of conditions may be required or a new visa application lodged. Most students aged 16 or over will have student visas that allow work for up to 20 hours per week and full time over the Christmas/New Year vacation period. If the visa does not have work rights on the visa document take advice to see if you can legally work while studying.

Step 2: Stay for Work: Apply for the Post-Study Work Visa

If you plan to apply for residence after studying in NZ, you would normally first need to apply for a Post-Study Work Visa. This visa allows international graduates in NZ to work in the country for 1, 2, or 3 years. However, you must meet the acceptable qualification requirement to be eligible to apply. The length of your work visa will depend on where you studied in NZ and the level of your qualification.

The Post-Study Work Visa is a great way to gain valuable work experience while in New Zealand. On this visa, you can work for virtually any employer in any industry in the country. If you want your partner to join you while you work in New Zealand, they will need to apply for their own work visa. Your dependent children may also be able to join you as domestic students.

Step 3: Apply for Residency

The 2021 Resident Visa introduced a new pathway to residency for visa holders in New Zealand. This visa came into effect on 29 September 2021; all applicants must have met the criteria on this date.

Immigration NZ criteria state that applicants must have been ‘settled’ in New Zealand for at least three years, currently earn the median wage, or work in a role on a ‘scarce’ list. This means Post-Study Work Visa holders are eligible to apply, as long as they held this visa (or applied for one and later approved) by 29 September 2021.

As with any NZ residence application, all applicants must meet the health and character requirements to be accepted. The deadline to apply for the 2021 Resident Visa is 31 July 2022, so seek advice early and apply now!

When the Skilled Migrant Category (points system) reopens in August 2022 international students may have another pathway to apply for residence. We expect the threshold to qualify for residence under this category will be high. Having a highly skilled and well-paid job offer in NZ will be one of the major requirements.

Need Assistance with Your Visa Application? Contact Malcolm Pacific Immigration Today

The Post-Study Work Visa is potentially a pathway to residence, but it is not the only option, and it is not always guaranteed. Here at Malcolm Pacific Immigration, we can advise you on the best visa solution for gaining residency in New Zealand. Get in touch with our knowledgeable immigration advisers today for reliable visa information and advice.

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