Indian marketing graduate Akshay Massey says most Indians studying in courses below degree level are using the courses as a route to get residency.
"I think it's definitely a majority of the Indian students who come here," he said.
"I think they don't really come here to get educated. I think the reason they come here is to get residency."
Massey, 33, came to Auckland last year to do a one-year postgraduate diploma in marketing at AUT University. He had already done a two-year undergraduate diploma in Canada, and is now working in marketing on a work visa.
"I like this country and I would like to stay here, given a chance," he said.
But he said Labour's policy of shutting students below degree level out of the post-study work visa was "a step in the right direction".
"The lower-skill employees don't just come from anywhere, they are directly linked to the lower-skill education in the courses that are out there," he said.
"If you have travelled by Uber in the city and you have spent a few minutes talking to the drivers, most of them are from the Indian subcontinent. They have to do that because they have to make ends meet, especially people who are here with kids.
"When you start speaking to them, they always started as international students. They might be on a post-study work visa which is open and they are still trying to find a job, or they might be working in the retail sector and driving an Uber at night to make ends meet.
"It always has been way too easy for people to come here and stay here."