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After you finish studying in New Zealand

Working in New Zealand after you graduate – the Post Study Work Visa

If you complete an acceptable qualification in New Zealand you will be eligible to apply for a Post Study Work Visa for after you graduate. Depending on the qualification and where you studied, you’ll be able to work for almost any employer in New Zealand for up to three years, and do almost any kind of work.

In order to be eligible to apply for a Post Study Work Visa, you must have completed a qualification assessed at level 4 or above on the NZQF. All university level study in New Zealand, from bachelors upward, meets this criteria.

If you’ve completed a qualification at level 7 (Bachelors) or above, you can work for any employer, in any job. If your qualification is below degree level you’ll be required to work in a job that’s related to what you studied, and have done a qualification that’s on the Qualifications Eligible for a Post Study Work Visa list.

The duration of your post study work visa will depend on how long you’ve studied in New Zealand. If you have studied a three year Bachelors degree, you will be eligible for a three-year Post Study Work Visa. If you have done a one-year Postgraduate Diploma, you’ll be eligible for a one-year Post Study Work Visa. This rule doesn’t apply to Masters and PhD students, however, who continue to be eligible for a three-year post-study work visa.

New Zealand qualification levels

When looking at Immigration New Zealand rules around study visas you will see frequent references to a qualification’s ‘level’, numbered from 1-10. These refer to the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF), which covers a range of qualifications from certificates to doctoral degrees.

The levels are based on how complex the learning is.

  • Secondary school qualifications, for example, are covered by levels 1 – 3 of the NZQF.
  • Level 7 qualifications include bachelors degrees, graduate certificates and graduate diplomas.
  • Level 8 refers to postgraduate certificates and postgraduate diplomas.
  • Level 9 refers to masters degrees (studied by coursework or by research, or by a combination of the two), and Level 10 refers to PhD.