Students. Who wants them?

Guest post
Who are the thousands getting Student Visas?

Between July 2011 and March 2017, there were 235,897 applications with an approval rate of 88%.

The majority, 75% of these were full fee paying students with another 12% dependants of those on another visa such as a worker’s visa. The rest are either on scholarship i.e. foreign exchange students or have applied through Section 61 as you can see in the table above.

Full fee paying students come from all corners of the world and the prime source of funds for NZ tertiary industry.

Why are students from Saudi Arabia coming to NZ? There must be better tertiary institutes closer to their country, such as the UK. It is also interesting 75% of them were male, and 50% were in the 20-29 year age group. What would be interesting is how many stay on after they finish their study.

Once the study is completed, there are two ways students can stay on.

Post Study Work Visa

People who have a New Zealand qualification that they completed in New Zealand, can apply for a visa to work in New Zealand. To be eligible, they must have an acceptable qualification. If they’re granted a work visa, they can do almost any work they like, for any employer in New Zealand.


Duration 12 months.

Work for any employer.

Work in almost any job New Zealand.

From July 2011 to March 2017, 21,652 applied for Post Study Work Visa with 95% of the applications approved

Post Study  Work Visa  Employer Assist

This visa is for recent graduates who have completed their qualification in New Zealand. To apply, they’ll need to have an offer of full-time work in the same area as their qualification. If they’re granted this visa, it may provide a pathway for them to later apply for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category.


Two years (or 3 years if working towards occupational registration)

Work in the job they’ve been offered for the employer who offered it.

Get practical work experience in the same area as their qualification.

From July 2011 to March 2017, 28,989 applied for Post Study Work Visa Employer Assist with 92% of the applications approved.

That is fair to say the majority who applied for a Post-study Work Visa are approved.

Note the criteria “To apply they’ll need to have an offer of full-time work in the same area as their qualification; this is where the system breaks down.

So NZ offers courses, let alone qualifications for car park attendants, road traffic controller, shelf filler or cleaners because these are some of the jobs that people who have done a full-time study, applied for under Post Study Work Visa (Employer Assist).

The system is being abused and needs tightening up.

Using published data to work out how many students who arrive on a student visa who stay on to work and then become a skilled migrant is not easy. There is variation in time spent studying; some courses are 30 weeks while other are years. Also, students have multiple student visas or a dependent with a student visa whose family may have got a residency visa. The only way would be to track each student through the system, and that information is not freely available.

However rather crudely:

Total student visas issued between July 2011 and March 2017 207,598
In the same time, a total of 47,158 granted Post Study Visas.
Possibly about a quarter of those originally on student visas cross over to a work visa later on.

In conclusion, although international students are good for the economy there are gaps in the system and open for abuse. More checks must be made on those who gain a Post Study Visa. Also, better data must be provided by the authorities on how many come to study and then stay.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.