Changes to student visas for New Zealand that aim to ensure students are genuine come into effect next month.
They will strengthen student visa requirements and conditions, improve access to study and training and make residence more accessible, according to Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman.
He said that New Zealand’s $2.3 billion dollar export education industry would be strengthened through the changes to immigration policy for international students.
Coleman said that ensuring students are genuinely arriving to study, and enabling the best students to stay on and contribute to New Zealand’s skilled workforce, will benefit the sector’s reputation and New Zealand’s economy.
The changes, which come into effect from July 2011, will strengthen student visa requirements and conditions, improve access to study and training, and improve pathways to residence. Some changes will not take effect until early 2012 to remove any additional barriers to students affected by the Christchurch earthquake.
‘The majority of people are here to legitimately study, but some just see a student visa as a short cut to gaining access to New Zealand. Some education providers have been enrolling students who are not capable of successfully completing their courses, have poor attendance and who are recording poor learning outcomes,’ said Coleman.
‘This affects our reputation as a high quality study destination, and our ability to attract more genuine students who have the skills New Zealand needs,’ he added.
Export education supports about 32,000 jobs and providers received nearly $600 million in fees last year from over 90,000 students, he explained. ‘It’s a significant earner for New Zealand so these changes are about ensuring we maintain the sector’s reputation and attract genuine students.’
Some of the key changes being introduced from July include: tightening the criteria around whether students are genuine and are capable of successfully completing their courses; and clarifying and strengthening student visa conditions around attendance and academic progress.
Students will need to satisfy Immigration New Zealand that they genuinely have access to funds for maintenance. Requirements for sponsorship and financial undertakings will be strengthened, while introducing more flexibility for genuine students.
Also the validity period of medical and police certificates for PhD students, their partners and dependants will be extended from 24 to 36 months, the same as for fee paying foreign students.
Work visa holders will no longer need to obtain a variation of conditions to undertake training authorised by their employer as part of their job and students will need to study in New Zealand for at least two years to qualify for Study to Work visas, unless they have postgraduate qualifications or credit-transferred bachelor’s degrees.
Finally, students who obtain a second, higher qualification at bachelor’s degree or postgraduate level will be able to obtain a second Graduate Job Search visa, rather than just one.