New PSW Visa Changes : Get Too Much Or Nothing At All?

New PSW Visa Changes: Get Too Much Or Nothing At All? – August has been an incredibly busy month in the immigration industry.

From the two main industry conferences that took place – NZIEC (New Zealand International Education Conference) held in Wellington on 9-10 August and the NZAMI Annual Conference in Auckland on 17 August, it was evident that the policy announcement for post study work visa changes was the biggest news of the month.

The announcement made on 8 August 2018 took the international education industry by storm.

While the overall drift of these changes is encouraging (i.e aiming to attract a larger volume to degree qualifications and higher skilled migrants that New Zealand wants for residence), there are discrepancies in the objective of this policy and the perceived implementation of it.

Though the big picture initially looked promising, gaps are starting to show as the dust settles.

I wish to bring the readers’ attention to post study work rights of ‘returning international students’.

This category seems to get the short end of the stick.

I define a returning international student as someone who:

  • Has already availed post study open work visa and;
  • Is not eligible for another post study work visa open as per WD2(b) under current instructions and;
  • Is eligible for a post study employer assisted visa as per WD1.10 (b) under current instructions (this option will cease to exist post 26/11/2018)

We have confirmation from the Immigration New Zealand policy team that:

  • The new policy removes WD1 altogether
  • The new policy does not replace WD1 with an open work visa, rather it changes the duration of open work visa, if granted (if one is eligible for it to begin with)
  • WD2(b) remains unchanged

This implies a majority of returning international students (those who choose to study further) are likely to be stripped of any post study work rights.

To be eligible for a work visa, applicants must not previously have been granted a visa under these instructions unless they have undertaken and completed a second higher qualification that is either a New Zealand bachelor degree or post graduate qualification and have studied that qualification in New Zealand for at least 30 weeks.

Let me explain using hypothetical scenarios:

Current instructions New Instructions w.e.f. 26/11/2018
Previously studied Availed PSWV – Open before Wishing to study Will get post study work rights?
Diploma at Levels 4&5 Yes Diploma at Level 6 No
Diploma at Levels 5&6 Yes Diploma at Level 7 No
Any diploma at Level 7 Yes Any diploma at Level 7 in a different field No
Any diploma at Level 7 Yes Post Graduate Diploma at Level 8 Yes
Post Graduate Diploma at Level 8 Yes Post Graduate Diploma at Level 8 in a different field No
Post Graduate Diploma at Level 8 Yes Masters at Level 9 Yes

The scenario highlighted above is the most common occurrence amongst international students that are in New Zealand.

Since they will not be able to get WD1 after 26/11/2018 as this category is being removed, they will also not be able to get any post study work rights.

This causes fairness and ethical concerns for these students who spend a large amount of money studying with nothing to gain after.

Furthermore, if these students explore other international education destinations like Australia, UK or Canada, this could greatly impact the overall sector.

The NZAMI Board firmly holds the opinion that this lot of returning international students need to be catered for exclusively due to their large number and the investment of time and money they have made.

A letter has been penned to the policy team to bring this to their attention and an OIA request to understand how many students will be adversely affected by this has also been made.

We believe a small window of opportunity has presented to initiate consultation wherein instructions can be written to achieve a fairer outcome for these returning students.

Arunima Dhingra
Managing Director


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