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Government closes guardian visa loophole

22 May 2006

Government closes guardian visa loophole

The Labour-led government is moving to stop any abuse of the visa system by guardians of foreign fee-paying students, says Immigration Minister David Cunliffe.

Restrictions will be put on the type of work permits granted to people who come to New Zealand as guardians. This follows evidence that some students have been able to avoid paying fees when their guardians gain a work permit.

"Guardian policy was primarily instituted to protect the welfare of foreign children who come to study in New Zealand," Mr Cunliffe said.

"The changes, effective immediately, are to ensure guardian visa holders are honouring this commitment when they come here.

"Under the amended policy, guardian permit holders will continue to be able to vary the conditions of their permits to allow them to work or study part-time, and they will still be able to apply for any permit under partnership grounds.

"However, guardian permit holders will not be eligible for a general work permit that would allow them to work full-time," Mr Cunliffe said.

"At the same time, guardians can apply to remain in New Zealand longer if they can show they meet the criteria under categories such as the Work-to-Residence categories or the Skilled Migrant Category.

"Immigration policy is focused on attracting people to NZ who have the skills, talent and experience to contribute to our labour market and economic growth. We want to acknowledge these qualities among guardian permit holders as well."

ENDS

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