CHANGES TO SKILLED MIGRANT CATEGORY AND STUDY TO WORK INSTRUCTIONS

posted 29 Jun 2011, 02:01 by Mehdi Asili   [ updated 29 Jun 2011, 11:34 ]
Tuesday, June 28, 2011               
                                                                                                                                                                  

Skilled Migrant Category changes

Why are these changes being made?

The changes announced by the Minister of Immigration on 1 June 2011 target higher level students and move immigration incentives away from short, lower level qualifications.  The intent of these changes is to incentivise students to study for longer and higher, thereby increasing export education revenue and other benefits associated with international education, and ensure that those students who choose to stay here are better positioned to take up genuinely skilled employment.

 

The majority of people are here to legitimately study, but some just see a student visa as a short cut to gaining access to work in New Zealand.  In the current economic downturn, many international students who have taken short, low-level courses are likely to be competing directly with young New Zealanders for a limited pool of jobs.

 

Research commissioned by Education New Zealand shows that, due to immigration incentives, New Zealand attracts a disproportionate number of certificate and diploma students compared to its competitors.  University enrolments accounted for only 23.9 percent of New Zealand enrolments compared with 41.5 percent in Australia and 53.5 percent in Canada.  The Department of Labour’s research shows that migrants with lower level (diploma and certificate) New Zealand qualifications are less likely to be in skilled employment, earn less, and are more likely to go back to full-time study than more highly qualified students.

 

What are the objectives of the changes?

The package of changes aims to:

 

  • improve the labour market outcomes and integration of international students,
  • minimise the impact of lower skilled students on our labour market,
  • reduce the compliance issues associated with non-genuine students, and
  • support the education sector’s push to improve export education revenue.

 

What consultation was undertaken on these changes?

These changes were consulted with all the peak sector bodies through Education New Zealand and other stakeholders in September 2010.  There was general support for the changes, including the two-year requirement for Study to Work visas.

 

Additional targeted consultation was undertaken with the education sector after the Minister of Immigration’s announcements on 1 June to ensure that the two-year requirement for study to work is appropriately targeted.

 

Who will be impacted by these changes?

The changes do not apply to students who are currently studying here or those who have already obtained one-year qualifications here.  Some of the changes (changes to the Skilled Migrant Category - SMC) will affect those students who commence studying in New Zealand on or after 25 July 2011.  Changes to eligibility for Study to Work visas will only impact those students who commence studying in New Zealand on or after 2 April 2012.

 

Nor will the changes impact those students coming to New Zealand to study only, because their study decisions will not be impacted by opportunities to work or gain residence here after they study. 

 

What English language qualifications will not be eligible for Skilled Migrant Category points?

Students who have obtained an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) qualification at level five or above will no longer be eligible for SMC points or for a Study to Work visa.  These courses are most commonly prerequisite courses for other higher level qualifications and on their own will not lead to skilled employment in New Zealand.

 

Study to Work changes

What are the Study to Work policies?

The Study to Work policies are the Graduate Job Search visa and the Graduate Work Experience visa (previously called the practical experience post study permit).  The Graduate Job Search visa is a one-year work visa allowing work for any employer.  The Graduate Work Experience visa is a two-year work visa (or three years for applicants that need to meet registration requirements) for applicants with a job offer in an occupation relevant to their qualification.

 

Why has the change to require two years’ study in New Zealand to be eligible for Study to Work visas been delayed until 2 April 2012?

Following the Minister of Immigration’s announcement on 1 June, education sector feedback was received regarding the new requirement for students to study a two-year course before they can qualify for Study to Work visas (the Graduate Job Search and Graduate Work Experience visas). 

 

In order to ensure that this requirement is well targeted, a further round of sector consultation was undertaken.  Feedback received indicated that more time was required to give some education providers the opportunity to adjust their marketing and course offerings.

 

Why have more one-year qualifications been made eligible for Study to Work visas?

In order to ensure that the two-year requirement is well targeted, a further round of sector consultation was undertaken.  Feedback received indicated that consideration should be given to making more one-year qualifications eligible for Study to Work visas.

 

Making two, one-year qualifications in succession and one-year level seven qualifications eligible for Study to Work visas will minimise the impact of these changes on education providers while still meeting the overall objectives of these changes.

 

Who will be impacted by these changes?

Changes to eligibility for Study to Work visas will only impact those students who commence studying in New Zealand on or after 2 April 2012.

 

Will students with one-year qualifications at levels four to six still be eligible for qualifications points under the SMC and the ability to work while studying?

All qualifications that were eligible for SMC points prior to these announcements will continue to be eligible for SMC points and work rights with the exception of ESOL qualifications.  Points for qualifications below level seven will be reduced from 50 to 40 for students commencing study on or after 25 July 2011.

 

How long is two academic years’ study?

Because some students choose to do two academic years back-to-back with no holidays, two academic years is defined in immigration instructions as a minimum of four semesters during a period of at least 16 months (ie two full-time academic years with no term breaks or summer break).

 

How long is one academic year’s study?

One academic year of study is a minimum of eight months actual full-time study time (without term breaks).


Source: Immigration New Zealand, LinkedIn

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