student visa
New Zealand plans to undertake most visa processing onshore. Source: Marty Melville/AFP

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) will not be processing student visa applications from outside the country until further notice. “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 said in a presentation to education agents, reported The PIE News.

New Zealand Immigration notes on its website, “From Aug. 10, 2020, we are temporarily suspending applications for temporary visas from outside New Zealand, unless you are exempt.” New Zealand closed its borders to all non-residents since last March. The government approved two border exceptions for students, one for 250 PhD and postgraduate students and another 1,000 for returning bachelor and postgraduate students

Last month, INZ announced that it would close several of its offshore offices and undertake most visa processing onshore. Their offices in Mumbai, Manila and Pretoria will cease visa processing and risk verification functions by the end of March 2021 and close by the end of August. Visa processing will also be withdrawn from their Beijing office, but the exact date has yet to be determined. The New Delhi office, however, will continue with risk and verification. “Our pacific presence remains unchanged. Over time we will enhance our risk and verification network offshore,” said INZ in the presentation.

In a media statement last month, INZ deputy head Catriona Robinson said INZ has a responsibility to adapt to the changing environment and ensure they are contributing to New Zealand’s COVID-19 economic recovery. “As a result, INZ has made the difficult decision to close our offices in Mumbai, Manila and Pretoria by March 2021 and bring more visa processing onshore,” said Robinson.

You can still study remotely without a student visa

student visa

INZ will close its offices in Mumbai, Manila and Pretoria by March 2021. Source: David Rowland/AFP

INZ notes on its website that student visa applicants who are outside New Zealand can study online without a visa. “When New Zealand’s border restrictions are lifted, you can provide evidence of your online study to support your visa application. If you choose to study online in your home country first, you will still need to meet standard student visa requirements to be granted a student visa,” it said.

New Zealand still requires 30 weeks of full-time study in the country for an applicant to be eligible for the post-study work visa. Students who had previously studied in New Zealand 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 “because of the border restrictions and the offshore visa suspension which is in place to support the border restrictions”.