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International student visa processing on hold in New Zealand

Students with open visa applications to study in New Zealand are being advised not to spend any further time or effort on their applications, with a processing freeze still in place and no set timeframe for when border restrictions will ease.

The government agency confirmed it will undertake most visa processing onshore. Photo: Unsplash

There is currently no date for when INZ will lift the suspension on offshore visa processing

The New Zealand border is closed to most non-residents, except for those who have a critical purpose and are granted an exception to the border restriction. The suspension of offshore temporary entry visa applications came into effect in August 2020.

“Over time we will enhance our risk and verification network offshore”

The government has approved two border exceptions for students, one for 250 PhD and postgraduate students and another 1,000 for returning bachelor and postgraduate students. Only students nominated by their education provider and the ministry of education are eligible.

The most recent extension of the visa freeze, announced in December, is in place until at least May 2021 and applies to not only new applications but those already in the system, “INZ is not processing any applications from students who are outside of New Zealand. The students should not put time and effort into updating documents at this point” it advised in a presentation to education agents.

It does not apply to the 1250 students in the government approved exemption.

The government agency also confirmed it will undertake most visa processing onshore, in a plan accelerate by the impact of Covid-19.

It has announced visa processing and risk verification functions are being withdrawn from Mumbai, Manila and Pretoria by end of March 2021 with those offices to be closed by the end of August.

“The New Delhi Office will continue with risk and verification. Visa processing will also be withdrawn from our Beijing office. The exact date is to be determined. Beijing will retain risk and verification functions,” INZ stated in the presentation.

“Our pacific presence remains unchanged. Over time we will enhance our risk and verification network offshore.”

The decision has been labelled as disappointing by Ravi Lochan Singh the director of Global Reach, which represents all New Zealand universities in South Asia.

“The decision of INZ to not commence the student visa process for students from South Asia is very disappointing.

“It has taken education agents working with New Zealand institutions decades to create a pull for it as a destination for students but the current stance of the government is derailing the goodwill created on the back of great work that the country had done in containing the virus.”

Students outside the country do not require a visa to commence studies online with a New Zealand provider, however they are being warned that offshore study does not mean they will be automatically granted a student visa when applications recommence, and that no offshore study is counted towards post study work visa criteria.

INZ said it is “working hard to make sure that prospective students are aware of these matters”.

New Zealand will still require 30 weeks of full time study in country for a student at a bachelor degree level or above to be eligible for PSW visas, while 60 weeks is required for qualifications below this level.

“The decision of INZ to not commence the student visa process for students from South Asia is very disappointing”

In addition, students who have previously studied in NZ and meet the post study work visa duration requirements, but were caught offshore when the border closed, cannot apply for post study work visas at this time.

According to INZ this is “because of the border restrictions and the offshore visa suspension which is in place to support the border restrictions”.

The Pathway Student Visa program which was due to be implemented has also been postponed. PSV allowed international students to undertake up to three study programs at one or more eligible education providers, on a single visa.

INZ had planned to make the visa category permanent early in 2021 however it said that current eligibility targets are unable to be met due to the impacts of Covid and the PSV cannot be a permanent category until “some time after the border has opened”.

There is currently no date for when INZ will lift the suspension on offshore visa processing, or when the country’s border restrictions will be eased.

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11 Responses to International student visa processing on hold in New Zealand

  1. Hoping that my son who is a nurse can come to NZ to study the CAP for 2 months then can work at the hospital. When the border will be open.

  2. My name is imtehan khan and i am from Afghanistan.now i am immigrant in pakistan.now i read in master part 1st in peshawer university in pakistan.and actually there is no peace in our country Afghanistan.this away i am immigrant in Pakistan to study here.if new Zealand provide me opportunity for study.then i will be really happy.and its my great desire to got master degree from newzealand.pls give me opportunity.

  3. Fully agree with the observations of Mr. Ravi Lochan Singh. It was after several years of hardwork by the NZ Education Providers, Govt agencies like Education New Zealand and the collective efforts of Education Agents that New Zealand has reached the present position of a sought after destination for international students. The present policy of the NZ government to continue the border closure for international students indefinitely will certainly derail the achievements made over these years and New Zealand will soon be forgotten as a study destination by the international students.

  4. I got the approval (scholarship) from my gov to study for my postdoctoral in NZ, unfortunately, I can’t continue to submit my visa application and this is very sad because I have put all my efforts into getting the scholarship. Once approved…this is what I have to face.

  5. I have been caught in this for the past one year. As a full fees paying international student it is very frustrating, ENZ and the ministry of education and the givt are clearly unable to understand others anxiety. I am finally realizing that a country so far away from the world cud only achieve covid victory coz its far away from the world. This will def negatively impact enz future and given that nz is more expensive than Europe or Uk and the universitoes beinf in top 300 in qs list is def fine but these universitoes infacr better universities are also there in other countries which have been welcoming to students.

  6. Lives are being destroyed and full fees paying students are being treated unfairly. I hope some will get themselves a lawyer for this unjust treatment! This government is ruining NZ education sector!

  7. I have got an offer to study at UOA with the scholarship in 2020 but unfortunately I cannot start the program without being physically there as I believe in taking full advantage of being a student at the place of study..But As NZ is not welcoming students and expecting them to pay full fee is not fair. I had to defer my studies two semesters away but I’m still in a dilemma. I have already wasted an year. What if I start my course and will not able to get Post study work visa or atleast get in the country? SO many doubts, not sure what to do….atleast if they announce a date from when students can get visa, it would have been good. My future looks unsure because of this. Now I’m changing the country of study as other European countries, USA, canada and every other country in the west is welcoming students wholeheartedly. I don’t think it’s worth it, spending alot for studies being at home without any experience of the country you love to get your degree from .

  8. guys, don’t lose hope! I was contacted to apply for a border exemption two weeks ago, last week they asked me to confirm my MIQ and flight arrangements. I didn’t have a visa before so this is out of the 1000 students they announced earlier. I was later informed that this is for PhD students with scholarships regardless of their visa status (there are other priories but mostly for PhD students). My point is if this is happening and no body is talking about it, then there are other things happening that no body knows about, just keep it up.

  9. Have been waiting for the borders to open for a year now. I worked really hard to get into the university of Otago and when finally got my offer letter last may ( my course has a twinning program ) so I was really excited to go to no to continue the other half of my course but because they decided to close the borders we couldn’t fly and all of us deferred for a year , wishing and hoping it would open . NZ govt should rlly consider taking students in , we wouldn’t have mind quarantining for a month even , just let us finish our degree , please !

  10. Unfortunate that human capital developmennt opportunities being suppressed for international students and facilities and academics preparation/efforts ruined. I am sure there are workable practical options for Govt of the day to consider. May economic sense make common sense soonest.

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