The Government is proposing removing the requirement for post-study work visas to be sponsored by an employer because "too many students are being sold a false dream."
The policy would affect between 12,000-16,000 students and will result in $260 million in lost revenue in the education sector.
Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says the proposed changes will help eliminate migrant exploitation and make sure that migrants granted residency "contribute the skills that New Zealand needs."
He says too many international students are being falsely sold a story that the current post-study work rights can put students on a fast track to residency in New Zealand.
“This has led to a decline in the general skill level of migrants granted permanent residency, and fraudulent and frankly unethical behaviour from some agents, employers and education providers has led to students being exploited."
Lees-Galloway is suggesting removing the requirement for post-study work visas to be sponsored by a particular employer.
Speaking to The Nation, he says the $260 million in lost revenue will come out of low-quality courses where "students are getting an education that isn't of much value to them."
New Zealand's education sector is worth $4.5 billion.
Lees-Galloway expects the proposed policy to have a number of effects.
"One is some people will decide not to come, they won't see that easy path to residency and will decide not to come.
He says some students may choose to study at a degree level instead, which will be good for both them and the education system because it's a better value proposition.
"We're not that fixated on the numbers in terms of how many students come here, what we're interested in is improving our immigration settings and improving our export education."
If adopted, the policy will not affect current student visas or post-study visas, Lees-Galloway says.
The proposed changes going out for consultation include:
· Remove the requirement for post-study work visas to be sponsored by a particular employer,
· Provide a one-year post-study work visa for non-degree level 7 or below qualifications,
· Provide a three-year post-study work visa for degree level 7 or above qualifications,
· Require students completing non-degree level 7 or below qualifications to undertake at least two years of study in order to gain eligibility for post-study work rights, and,
· Require international students studying level 8 or 9 qualifications to be in an area specified in the Long Term Skills Shortage List in order for their partner to be eligible for an open work visa, and in turn the partner’s dependent children to be eligible for fee-free compulsory schooling.
The public will have the chance to have its say on these changes with consultation opening on Tuesday 5 June.