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The basics
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.




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.