Studying in New Zealand offers a viable pathway to residency, particularly for those aiming to transition from education to employment. A significant component of this pathway is the Post-Study Work Visa. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how educational pursuits in New Zealand can lead to residency.

Trends in Post-Study Work Visa Applications:

  • 2020-21: 15,400 applications
  • 2021-22: 13,740 applications
  • 2022-23: 9,530 applications

Pathway to Residency Through Education

Step 1: Choosing the Right Course and Institution

  • Focus Areas: Opt for courses in high demand in New Zealand, often found on the Long Term Skill Shortage List or in sectors with a consistent need for skilled workers.
  • Qualification Levels: The courses should be at least Level 7 or higher on the New Zealand Qualification Framework or a Level 4-6 course that spans at least two years.

Step 2: Obtaining a Student Visa

  • Requirements: You must obtain a student visa before studying in New Zealand. This visa permits you to live and study in New Zealand for your course. Fulfilling all requirements, including proof of funds and comprehensive health and character checks, is crucial.

Data on Student Visa Applications:

  • Trend Student Visa Application
    • FY 22-23: 75,589 applications
    • FY 23-24 (July 23-March ’24): 64,897 applications
  • Trend: Full Fee Paying Student Visa Application
    • FY 22-23: 42,966 applications
    • FY 23-24 (July 23-March ’24): 35,684 applications

Step 3: Studying in New Zealand

While studying, students should take advantage of opportunities to integrate into the community and network with potential employers. This can be essential for future job opportunities and influence residency applications.

Step 4: Transitioning from Study to Work

Post-Study Work Visa

International students can apply for a Post-Study Work Visa upon completing their studies. This visa permits graduates to remain in New Zealand and seek employment with any employer for a period ranging from one to three years. The specific duration of the visa is contingent upon the graduate’s level of qualification and their place of study. For instance, those who study outside of Auckland may benefit from extended visa durations due to additional incentives.

Eligibility Criteria for the Post-Study Work Visa

To qualify for a Post-Study Work Visa, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • They must have completed a qualification at Level 7 or above, or
  • They must have completed a Level 7 or below qualification listed on the Qualifications Eligible for a Post-Study Work Visa.

Additionally, the qualification is at a non-degree level of 7 or below. In that case, the graduate must secure employment related to their field of study.

Duration of the Post-Study Work Visa

The length of the Post-Study Work Visa is directly linked to the level and duration of the qualification completed in New Zealand:

  • Graduates with a master’s or doctoral degree who have studied in New Zealand for at least 30 weeks are eligible for a three-year visa.
  • Graduates with qualifications at Level 8 or below will receive a visa that lasts as long as their studies, as specified in their offer of place. For example, if the offer states that the course duration is 32 weeks, the visa will also be for 32 weeks.

It is important to note that failing a course or taking longer to complete the course than the duration specified in the offer of a place does not extend the visa. Suppose there are discrepancies between the actual study duration and what was offered. In that case, immigration authorities may seek additional information from the educational institution.

Restrictions on Visa Renewal

Holders of the Post-Study Work Visa should know that this visa cannot be renewed. Suppose an individual has previously been granted a Post-Study Work Visa. In that case, they are not eligible to receive a second one under the same category.

Step 4: Pathway to NZ Residency

Skilled Migrant Category

After obtaining relevant work experience in New Zealand, graduates can potentially apply for residency under the Skilled Migrant Category. This points-based system considers age, work experience, employment, and qualifications. Gaining employment in an occupation on the Long Term Skill Shortage List can significantly increase your chances.

Work to Residence

The Work to Residence program enables individuals with skills in high-demand occupations to apply for New Zealand residency after working for two years. Here’s a quick guide:

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Employment: Must be employed or have an offer from an accredited employer in New Zealand.
  • Experience: Required to have worked in a Tier 2 Green List in-demand role for 24 months.

Partner and Family Categories

Suppose you have a partner who is a New Zealand resident or citizen. In that case, you may also qualify for residency through partner-based visas. Family connections can provide additional pathways to residency.

Important Considerations

  • Regulations Change: Immigration policies can change, so it’s crucial to stay updated with the latest New Zealand immigration laws and policies.
  • Employment Prospects: Securing a job that aligns with your field of study can enhance the likelihood of a successful residency application.
  • Professional Help: Consider consulting with a licensed immigration adviser to help navigate the complexities of the immigration process and improve your chances of success.


Studying in New Zealand can be a strategic step towards gaining residency, mainly through the Post-Study Work Visa. By choosing the right course, gaining relevant work experience, and meeting the necessary criteria, international students can transition from study to permanent residency in New Zealand, opening up many opportunities for their future.


About ICL Immigration- 

Based in Auckland, NZ, for 20 years and in partnership with over 20 institutes, ICL Immigration simplifies your journey from studying to settlement in New Zealand. Our services include:

  • Admission and University Selection: Tailored matching to the best programs, guiding you through university applications and meeting deadlines.
  • Student Visa Facilitation: Comprehensive assistance in visa application processes, ensuring compliance with ongoing communication with Immigration New Zealand.
  • Post-Arrival and Settlement Support: Pre-departure briefings on New Zealand’s culture, accommodation aid, and local orientation upon arrival.
  • Resident Visa and Pathway to Residency: Expert guidance in transitioning to a resident visa post-study and support in the permanent residency application process.

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