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New Zealand: Visa Guides

Post-study visa options in New Zealand

Guide to the possible work visa options for international students in New Zealand, post-study.

post study work visa New Zealand

When you have completed your studies, you may find that you don’t want to leave New Zealand. That’s understandable, it is a beautiful place to live after all. If that is your plan, there’s been some great news! As of November 2018, new changes come into effect that will give you greater freedom to stay in the country for up to three years after you finish your studies. Not bad, right?


In fact, New Zealand now offers the second most generous post-study work rights in the world, according to The Pie News.


The previous visa system saw an emphasis on employer sponsorship, and students often ended up attempting to get jobs for which there was no real demand, just so they could stay in the country. The changes have been introduced to minimise exploitation of graduates by employers, and allow international students to take an adequate amount of time to find the right job for them. 


Below is an explanation of the changes – broken down by the types of degree which you can study in New Zealand.


If you study a Level 4-6 degree for a minimum of 60 weeks:

You are entitled to a one-year open visa, which gives you the opportunity to search for a job for 12 months, and you may be able to apply for permanent residency under the Skilled Migrant Category if you can show that you meet the relevant criteria after the 12 months.


If you study this type of programme outside of Auckland and are due to graduate before December 2021, then you are provided with a two-year post-study open work visa. However, if you are finished beyond December 2021, your visa allocation will revert back to a one-year open visa, with an extra year added if you are studying towards registration with a specific professional or tade body. 


If you study a Level 7 or above degree:

Under the new rules, if you receive a student visa from the New Zealand government for a Level 7 bachelor’s degree or higher, you are automatically provided with a three-year open post-study work visa. So, upon the arrival of your student visa when studying in New Zealand, you know that you have the option of staying in the country for up to three years whilst you look for a job.


There’s even good news for international students already in New Zealand, too. If you already hold a student visa in the country, you will also automatically receive the new three-year open work visa.


All in all, some pretty positive changes for you as international students. New Zealand is becoming a real powerhouse in terms of its ability to offer post-study work options for those who come to study there from overseas.



However, until 26 November 2018, the below is still in effect:



You can apply for a Graduate Job Search Work Visa. This will cover you for a maximum of twelve months only, which will give you more than enough time (hopefully) to find employment. You will need to apply for this no more less than three months before the end of your student visa (or six months for those with Doctoral degrees). You must also have a certain amount of money to support yourself (NZ$4,200) in this period.



You can apply for a Graduate Work Experience Visa which lasts between two-three years (three years if you are working towards becoming a member of a professional association). You will have to submit the relevant form, Work Visa Application (INZ 1015) alongside your travel document (i.e. your passport) and pay a fee. This offer of employment must be relevant to the qualification that you have achieved in New Zealand, and must follow one of the following requirements:

  • You have studied for at least one academic year a qualification at level 7 or above on the New Zealand Qualification Framework;
  • You have studied a two year qualification at level 4 to 6 on this Framework;
  • You have studied two qualifications at levels 4 to 6 on this Framework that each required at least one academic year study in New Zealand, provided the second qualification is at a higher level (two years studying in New Zealand overall).


If you are working to become a member of a professional association, like that of Chartered Accountants, you must provide evidence that:

  • Membership is essential to perform your professional duties
  • Your employment is considered required experience to become a member of this association
  • The association is relevant to the qualification you have achieved in New Zealand, and that the employment is relevant experience to this association


If you're more comfortable about studying in New Zealand now, start browsing courses in New Zealand.



Visit the NZ Immigration website.

If you are in the Christchurch area, you can apply for visa extensions under new regulations.

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post study work visa New Zealand

Raif is a huge football fan and loves an infographic. He studied on the NCTJ-accredited University of Sheffield Journalism course, which has recently been voted the UK's number one for journalism in the Guardian's University League Table. Raif will look out for any mentions on social media, and will always be happy to help with any queries on your study abroad journey.