Work visa changes for foreign students proposed

The Government has proposed changes to work visas in response to concerns about the quality of education and study being used as a back door to residence.

The changes could dramatically restrict the ability of foreign students to work and live in New Zealand once they have finished studying.

But the work-right entitlements for those studying at bachelor’s degree level and above would be more generous.

The proposal also includes getting rid of the need for those students to have an employer endorsement, which the Government says forces students to become too dependent on their employers to stay in the country, opening them to manipulation.

Immigration lawyer Alistair McClymont said the Government had identified one of the root causes of exploitation.

When students graduated, they had to have a job offer from an employer which was relevant to their qualification, he said.

‘‘It was that policy that was one of the main causes of exploitation in this market,’’ he said.

Mr McClymont said many issues lay within the lower-level education providers and incentivising university study could go a long way to fixing the issue.

Migrant Workers Association spokeswoman Anu Kaloti said it was a great first step but current students would not benefit.
‘‘That signals we will still have an underclass of international students who will still be open to exploitation.’’

The public can provide feedback on the proposed changes until June 29. — RNZ

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