24 March 2009

NZ student visa holders to get relaxed work permit regulations

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Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman has indicated that English-language New Zealand student visa holders could possibly have regulations lifted that are stopping them from getting a work permit in New Zealand.

Currently, holders of the New Zealand student visa studying English need to pass language tests in order to gain a New Zealand student work permit.

Dr Coleman says if New Zealand wants to compete with Australia's international student market, which is fast becoming Australia's biggest export industry now that mining has taken a dive, then they need to start relaxing immigration laws and giving their New Zealand student visa holders more freedom to work in New Zealand, by making the language test an unnecessary requirement to gain a New Zealand student work permit.

"If we can't match the benefits students get in Australia in terms of their ability to work, then the sector's going to lose out and the New Zealand economy is going to lose out."

According to the NZ Herald, the annual fiscal input from international students in New Zealand reaches an accumulative $121 million in fees and $40,000 per person into the local economy.

"There is a lot of potential in our export education sector, and we need to make our policies more student friendly so that students would want to come here," Dr Coleman added.

Rob McKay, chairman of English New Zealand, said that while the English-language students would more than likely not take up work in New Zealand, the Government needs to provide the option. 

"English language school staff ratio is one to every 10 students, and for every job created in the school, there is a flow-on of three jobs being created in the industry."

A government-backed report found that every international student interested in New Zealand and who chose another country caused a loss of 870 jobs in schools and 3700 full time jobs in the community.  Meanwhile, unions are complaining that the relaxing of work rights for them in New Zealand would undercut the opportunities of locals looking for work during the economic slowdown.


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