Work while studying

Under present immigration regulations international students on long term student permits are entitled to work up to 20 hours per week during term time and 40 hours during the summer break.

International students may be eligible to work up to 20 hours per week if they are:

  • dot Enrolled in a full-time course lasting at least two academic years,

  • dot Studying towards a New Zealand qualification that would gain points under New Zealand residence policy, or

  • dot Studying a full-time course to develop English language skills — to qualify, you must have an IELTS (General or Academic Module) overall band score of at least 5.0.

Work after graduation

International students who have graduated with a NZ qualification are now eligible to apply for the Graduate Job Search Work Permit. This one year permit/visa allows International Graduates to work for any employer in New Zealand.

If during the one year period, students find employment relevant to the qualification studied, they may then apply to New Zealand Immigration to have the work permit/visa extended for up to 2 years.

To be eligible to apply for the Graduate Job Search Work Permit, students should have successfully completed, in New Zealand, a qualification that would gain points under New Zealand Immigration Skilled Migrant Category.

Work Permits for Partners of International Students

The partners of postgraduate students may apply for a work permit valid for the same period of time as their partner's student permit. If your partner is interested in working they should approach the New Zealand Immigration Service and make an application.

Students must not undertake employment in New Zealand until they have permission from the New Zealand Immigration Service. This permission stating rights to work is automatically printed on student visa label provided the student applies for variation of conditions to student permit while visa application.

Paying Income Tax

Before you start work, you need an IRD (Inland Revenue Department) number. It normally takes 8-10 days to process your application.

As soon as students receive income from your part-time job or from other New Zealand income sources, they are legally obliged to pay tax to the government. This is usually automatically deducted from the wages by the employer. The tax deducted may vary from 15 cents to 39 cents per dollar, depending on the earnings. However, this deduction can go up to a high, non-declaration rate of 45 cents per dollar if the student does not fill a Tax Code Declaration Form given by the employer at the beginning of work.

If students work only for part of the year, they are probably entitled to a tax refund. To check the eligibility for a refund, students have to contact the IRD for a personal tax summary.