Students staying after study

International students will need a visa to stay to work after their studies are completed.

To stay on in New Zealand and work after they have finished their studies, international students need the appropriate work visa.

New Zealand’s immigration policies include a graduate work pathway for international students who have achieved a New Zealand qualification, to enable them to gain work experience in a field directly related to the studies they have completed.

Depending on their area of study, they may have the opportunity to stay and work in New Zealand for up to four years, and possibly even gain residence.

First, however, they will need to apply for a visa and have it approved. The graduate pathway has two steps:

  1. Post-study work visa (open). This visa gives recent graduates up to 12 months to get a job in a field related to their studies. While they are looking for a job they are allowed to work in any job to support themselves.
  2. Post-study work visa (employer assisted). This visa lets graduate students stay in New Zealand to gain work experience in their field of study for a further two years (or three years if work experience is required as part of a professional registration). This visa relates to a specific job with a specific employer.

After working on a post-study work visa (employer assisted) a number of years, graduates may have sufficient New Zealand work experience to apply for a New Zealand residence visa. If their work is in an occupation that has skill shortages, then this improves their chances of being allowed to stay, either with work visas or residence.

Whatever visa an international student applies for, they will need to meet Immigration New Zealand’s health and character requirements.