A new processing system will be used to fast-track New Zealand visa applications for students.
07 September 2009
New Zealand student visas now processed faster
Immigration New Zealand will introduce a new priority New Zealand visa processing system to speed up student visa applications from Indian nationals.
The move to a faster New Zealand visa system for students comes after The Indian Education Group, which represents private training schools, lobbied the government saying students and agents from the Indian subcontinent were put off by the five-month wait for a New Zealand visa.
Instead the students were going to countries where the turnaround time for a student visa was much quicker.
"Agents in India are saying we have students wanting to come through, but they are just put off by the five-month wait and are sending them away to England," spokesman for The Indian Education Group Paul Chalmers said.
Mr Chalmers told the New Zealand Herald that New Zealand had failed to seize the opportunity to lure students to New Zealand as an alternative to Australia, where there has been recent racial tensions.
The international education sector is Australia's third-largest sector, worth AU$13 billion (£6.7 billion), and Australia processed around 20,000 Australia student visas for Indian nationals last year, with an average processing time of between two to six weeks.
The international education sector in New Zealand is growing steadily, although only 6000 of the 85,000 foreign students currently in New Zealand are from India, but Mr Chalmers said there is great potential in the market that is being lost.
Mr Chalmers said the eight member institutions, which include Auckland Institute of Studies, Natcoll and Newton College of Business and Technology, had received about 1000 new student applications from Indian nationals since the Australian attacks but many of the applicants were still waiting for their New Zealand visa applications to be processed.
Representatives from The Indian Education Group met Immigration New Zealand officials last month asking for urgent intervention, warning of job losses if these students and others from India were kept from coming to New Zealand.
Immigration New Zealand said the service was working closely with the group to speed New Zealand student visa applications in India.
The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in New Zealand visa and immigration services.