Immigration New Zealand has unveiled new rules that come into play from 25 July. In brief, student attendance and progress will be more closely monitored, as will student competency on application; Study to Work visas – enabling students to stay and seek employment – will only be available to students after two years of study (less for graduate students); and evidence of funds will be assessed to ensure that individuals underwriting the maintenance needs of student applicants are a friend or relative with a genuine intention to support the applicant.
Work Visas will soon only be available to dependents of students studying a subject on the long-term skills shortage list at Bachelor’s level or above (rather than at any level) and when applying to become a Skilled Migrant, bonus points for having studied in New Zealand will now only be awarded for a bachelor’s degree or above.
‘’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,’’ said Immigration Minister, Jonathan Coleman.
From March 2012, the threshold for maintenance funds that students must prove (for courses over 36 weeks) will also increase by one-third to NZ$15,000, or pro-rated to NZ$1,250 per month for shorter courses (less prepaid living expenses).
One amendment the education industry may well be pleased about is that maintenance requirements can now be underwritten by a third party, as well as a friend or relative – meaning that government-sponsored students will find it easier to obtain a student visa.
In contrast, in the UK, Saudi students sponsored by their government are now very unlikely to obtain a student visa, since in April, the UK government removed the exemption for government-sponsored students to reach the set language proficiency level required for successful visa issuance.