02 April 2012

New Zealand visa health checks relaxed to boost student numbers

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International students will no longer have to pass rigorous health checks in order to qualify for a New Zealand visa, the government has announced.

New Zealand visa

Immigration Minister Nathan Guy announced the changes in the hopes of increasing international student numbers.

New Zealand's education industry has suffered in the wake of the Global Economic Crisis and the earthquake which devastated Christchurch in 2011. However, the government hopes to 'cut the red tape' surrounding New Zealand visa applications to make it easier and more appealing for foreign students to study in New Zealand.

"International education is worth NZ$2.3 billion [£1.2 billion] to the economy a year and indirectly supports around 32,000 jobs," said Immigration Minister Nathan Guy.

Changes to the New Zealand immigration process will take effect from July and include foreign students no longer needing to provide full medical assessments, a newly introduced health insurance requirement and screening of partners or dependent children will be limited to serious conditions.

"These changes will make it easier for low-risk, high-value students to come to New Zealand," said Mr Guy.

International students will only be screened for tuberculosis upon entering the country under the system, which Mr Guy says will save approximately NZ$17 million (£8.7 million) a year in medical costs.

International student numbers dropped by almost 40% following the Christchurch earthquake in February 2011 and numbers are only just beginning to recover. The government has reportedly pledged NZ$5 million (£2.5 million) to help revive the industry and is considering adding work rights to short term visa holders.

The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent immigration consultancy that specialises in helping people apply for a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa.

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