As the new Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) Resident Visa takes effect on October 9, 2023, it is great news for existing student visa holders that their eligibility for in-study work rights will be retained.
Under the current regulations, most students with visas are allowed to work up to 20 hours a week during term time and full-time during course breaks. The eligibility of student in-study work rights has been tied to the type of qualification being studied, with only those that qualify for points under the SMC being eligible.
The new SMC only considers qualifications at Bachelor’s degree Level 7 or higher for points, rendering most qualifications ineligible for points and, therefore, in-study work rights. However, the Ministry of Immigration confirmed that it will remove the reference to SMC in the in-study work instructions, and that the existing in-study work eligibility will remain. This means that the eligible qualifications, programme level and type, rather than the SMC, will be shown instead, allowing for better clarity.
In line with this, from October 9, all students studying full-time programmes, that lead to a New Zealand qualification at Level 4 or above on the New Zealand Qualifications and Credentials Framework (NZQCF), will be able to avail of in-study work rights of 20 hours per week.
However, training schemes and micro-credentials will remain ineligible for in-study work rights. The new SMC guidelines will not require a course to be relevant to the ANZSCO occupation at skill levels 3-5, as that reference will be removed.
It is important to note that student visas with work rights will not be granted for part-time study, unless the student is in their final semester of a programme of study that is at least 2 academic years' duration or which culminates in a NZ qualification at level four or higher on the NZQCF, in which case the student may be eligible for in-study work rights.