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Employment Prospects

Want to work while you’re in New Zealand? Here’s how

An international education can be a strain on a student’s budget. In New Zealand, most students enrolled in a course of 12 months' duration or longer can work part-time for up to 20 hours a week during semester and during holiday periods. 

You can also work as much as you like during your scheduled course breaks. If your program runs for one academic year and is worth 120 credits or more, you may be eligible to work full-time during the course breaks. 

If your program runs for one academic year but is worth less than 120 credits, you may be eligible to work full-time during the Christmas and New Year holiday break. 

You should double check your visa before staring any paid work.

Remember if you want to work in New Zealand, you must have an Inland Revenue Department (IRD) tax number.

Your rights at work

Everyone who works in New Zealand, including international students, has basic rights and entitlements at work. 

 Your employer is required by law to:

  • Provide you with a written employment agreement
  • Pay you at least the minimum wage
  • Provide you with paid annual holidays
  • Provide you with paid rest breaks and unpaid meal breaks
  • Give you public holidays off or if you’re working on these days, compensate you for working
  • Not deduct money from your wage unless the agreement is in writing
  • Provide a safe workplace
  • Not discriminate against you
  • Act in good faith

If you feel like you’re employer does not meet these obligations, you can call the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s contact centre on 0800 20 90 20 for assistance. 

Working after you graduate

With skill shortages across various sectors in the New Zealand labour market, graduates are in high demand in New Zealand. In particular, there is a strong demand for skilled workers in the health, information and communications technology, agriculture and farming, and engineering industries. 

Students with skills in demand and who wish to stay in New Zealand long-term may apply for a Skilled Migrant visa, which will allow them to live and work in New Zealand permanently.

If you want to stay and work in New Zealand after you finish your course, you’ll need to apply for a new visa first. 

 There two types of visas:

  • The Post-study work visa (open): you have up to 12 months to find a job in your relevant field of study
  • The Post-study work visa (employer assisted): this option lets you work in a specific job, which must be relevant to your students, for two more years

If you wish to stay and work in New Zealand permanently and you meet the relevant criteria, you can apply for a Skill Migrant Visa. To find out more information, visit the Immigration New Zealand website.

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