International students who are allowed to work in New Zealand along with their study should know their rights and responsibilities, Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse has said.
He said that contrary to common belief or what ‘some employers may say,’ they have the right to minimum wages and working conditions as per the New Zealand Labour Law in force.
Mr Woodhouse issued a statement on February 28 following the launch of a new website (www.nzstudywork.com), which provides information and guidelines for foreign students enrolling in New Zealand’s educational institutions.
“The new website provides international students with a ‘one-stop shop,’ where they can get information about their employment rights and responsibilities, health and safety in the workplace, work conditions attached to student visas and settlement resources,” he said.
Mr Woodhouse said that study must be the primary purpose of all international students and that their efforts to obtain part-time jobs are subject to rules.
“A student visa (or a limited visa granted for the purpose of study) is required for all people coming to New Zealand to study for more than three months. If their main reason for coming to this country is to work, they must obtain the appropriate work visa. The ‘Visa Option’ tool on the website of Immigration New Zealand will explain and guide such applicants,” he said.
Overseas students must provide proof to INZ that they have sufficient funds to meet their living and other costs during their stay in New Zealand .They should be aware of the cost of living in our country, They should also read the information available on the new website and know how to settle here,” he said.
International students seeking jobs on completion of their studies should apply for a work visa with INZ, he added.
New Zealand’s immigration policies include a graduate work pathway for international students who have achieved a New Zealand qualification to enable them to gain work experience in a field directly related to the studies they have completed.
Depending on their area of study, they may have the opportunity to work in New Zealand for up to four years, and possibly even gain residence,” Mr Woodhouse said.
The graduate pathway has two steps, namely, ‘Graduate Job Search Work Visa,’ and the ‘Graduate Work Experience Visa.’
The Graduate Job Search Work visa gives recent graduates up to 12 months to get a job in a field related to their studies. While they are looking for a job, they would be allowed to work in any job to support themselves, Mr Woodhouse said,
He said that the ‘Graduate Work Experience visa’ allows graduate students to stay in New Zealand to gain work experience in their field of study for two years (or three years if work experience is required as part of a professional registration).
This visa would relate to a specific employer
Mr Woodhouse said that neither of these visas is labour market-tested.
“This means that, employers can offer jobs to recent graduates if New Zealand workers are not available to fill the posts.
“After working on the Graduate Work Experience Visa for a number of years, graduates may have sufficient New Zealand work experience to apply for a New Zealand residence visa. If their work is in an occupation that has skill shortages, they would have a better chance of being allowed to stay, either with work visas or residence. It is important that all applicants must meet the criteria set by the government, including health and character requirements,” he said.
Mr Woodhouse advised employers to verify the ‘variation of conditions,’ that would give them permission to work.
“It is an offence to employ someone who does not have the right to work in New Zealand,” he said.
Requirements for Employers engaging migrant students
Ø They must comply with the rules in force
Ø Provide a written employment agreement
Ø Pay them no less than the minimum wage specified in the law
Ø Give them breaks
Ø Give them the holidays and leave as per their entitlement
Ø Ensure the safety and health of student workers
Requirements for student workers
ü They must pursue the primary objective of study
ü Comply with all rules at all times
ü Apply for work permit
ü Graduate Job Search Work Visa
ü Graduate Job Search Experience Visa
ü They should not accept wages that are less than minimum
ü They should report to INZ if their employers breaches the provisions of the employment agreement, working conditions, health and safety issues