From 10 August, applications for “most visitor, work and student visas” will be suspended for three months. Immigration New Zealand (INZ) announced this change in their 31 July update.
The suspension means that tertiary students who have been studying online from their home countries will be excluded from applying for a student visa for 2021. It also means that students who leave the country over the summer break will unlikely be let back into New Zealand unless border restrictions are changed.
“To date, INZ has not been processing visas for individuals who are offshore unless they meet the strict border exception criteria … As the border is closed, students will not meet entry requirements and as a result, we are unable to process and decide offshore applications.”
In the July update, INZ said that applications that have already been submitted would not be processed. “Suspending the ability for students to apply for a visa if they are outside New Zealand is the right thing to do given the current border restrictions.”
Unless it is required in order to commence offshore or online enrolment, INZ “strongly encourages education providers to stop issuing Offers of Place to prospective students who are offshore, until there is greater clarity over the border and their ability to travel to New Zealand”.
“Between 1 April and 27 July 2020 INZ received 1,767 fee paying student visa applications from students who are outside of New Zealand. These applications are not being processed and it is unfair to continue to allow students to apply. Students can apply to withdraw their application and they can request a fee refund. Refund requests are considered on a case by case basis.”
While border restrictions remain in place, INZ said “the government is looking at ways to help maximise the study opportunities for those here in New Zealand, particularly when there are still constraints to travelling back to their home country”.