Govt taking 'simple way out' with proposed students visa changes - lawyer

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An immigration lawyer says changes to post-study work visas are a lazy way to crack down on worker exploitation.

The Government is now taking submissions on proposed changes which limit how long a student can stay in the country after studying, and remove employer sponsorship for students.

But Alastair McClymont told Newshub the heat needs to be turned up on dodgy education providers.

"Ideally the Government should have really dealt with the quality of education and [should] have looked at policies to avoid the exploiting of vulnerable students," he told Newshub.

"It's really just taking the simple way out by just withdrawing these types of courses."

One of the changes includes removing the requirement for post-study visas to be sponsored by a particular employer.

Mr McClymont says there is more than just one key issue.

"It doesn't really do anything to address the issues about the people that are working in unskilled labour jobs, particularly here in Auckland and in a lot of the schools which will now cease to exist because of these changes."

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway told Newshub Nation low-quality tertiary providers will be targeted by the proposed changes.

"If they're in the business of pretending to provide an education in order to rort the immigration system, they may have a problem on their hands," he said on Saturday morning.

It is anticipated the changes could result in losses of $260 million to the $4.5 billion education sector.

"But let's look at where those cuts are going to happen," Mr Lees-Galloway says.

"They're going to happen among the low-quality courses... where students get an education that isn't much value to them."

Public consultation on the changes will open on June 5.

The proposed changes include:

  • removing the requirement for post-study work visas to be sponsored by a particular employer
  • providing a one-year post-study work visa for non-degree level 7 or below qualifications
  • providing a three-year post-study work visa for degree level 7 or above qualifications
  • requiring students completing non-degree level 7 or below qualifications to undertake at least two years of study in order to gain eligibility for post-study work rights
  • requiring international students studying level 8 or 9 qualifications to be in an area specified in the Long Term Skills Shortage - List in order for their partner to be eligible for an open work visa, and in turn the partner's dependent children to be eligible for fee-free compulsory schooling.