International students in New Zealand, who have been thrown into a lot of uncertainty for quite some time now due to COVID-19 pandemic developments, have urged the government to resume visa application processing so they can continue their studies abroad once the borders reopen.
As a result of state lockdown, since August, the Immigration New Zealand ceased visa application processing, Erudera College News reports.
Recently, the government has introduced the latest set of border exceptions, announcing that a total of 250 international students would be allowed to enter New Zealand.
Yet, it highlighted that priority would be given to PhD students, adding that only those who have not received a visa would be excluded.
In November, a total of 194 eligible students have been notified that they were allowed to return to the country and could soon begin their visa procedures, according to Universities New Zealand (UNZ), which represents eight universities in the country.
Nevertheless, many students stuck in their countries are afraid of losing scholarships in New Zealand due to visa issues. Nima Shokrollahi from Iran, an Auckland University PhD candidate, told stuff.co that he has been waiting for a visa since 2019.
After a year, he is concerned he will lose the scholarship due to delays in receiving an answer whether his visa application has been successful or not.
45 Iranian students, including Shokrollahi, have called on the government to re-process student visas for PhD students and help them to re-enter the country.
A spokesperson for Immigration New Zealand said there had been 7,289 student visa applications waiting for their procession and since August 10, visa applications for people offshore have been cancelled.
“At this time, therefore, any processing of offshore student visa applications will only take place if the person is someone to whom a border exception applies.”
Earlier, it was reported that New Zealand’s universities were banking on easing border restrictions for international students by early next year due to a $300m loss, as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Project Atlas data, there are 52,995 international students pursuing studies in the country in 2020. At the same year, a total of 340,280 domestic students have been enrolled in New Zealand’s public and private education institutions.