23 March 2023 at 10:30 am

March update from Immigration New Zealand 

The latest information on student visa processing, support for international students affected by Cyclone Gabrielle, approval in principle timeframe, tuition fee payment evidence requirements, and agent declaration are the topics covered in this month’s update from Immigration New Zealand.

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Update on Student visa processing*   

Since New Zealand’s international borders reopened in August 2022, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has received 29,228 student visa applications from international students outside of New Zealand. We have completed 24,549 of these applications.  

Our recent processing times for international student visa applications are published on our website. These are updated each month: Visa processing times for international students | Immigration New Zealand 

*Figures current as at 10pm on 6 March 2023.   

Impact of Cyclone Gabrielle on international students 

We are aware that some education providers' campuses have been damaged by Cyclone Gabrielle and have been forced to close temporarily. 

This affects students’ immigration status because their current student visa requires them to attend the place of study specified on the visa which may not be currently possible. We understand that this is a difficult time, and we would like to help. An information sheet has been developed for affected international students and can be found here. 

Approval in Principle timeframe 

We have shortened the standard length of time we allow most offshore students to provide a tuition fee receipt (or other financial evidence) from ten to five working days to encourage students to complete the final steps of their student visa application quickly. We understand that some students may not be able to provide evidence in the timeframe they are given due to their individual circumstances. Extensions to this timeframe are available – the student or agent just needs to upload a brief letter explaining how much longer they will require and why. 

Tuition fees 

We would like to remind you that changes to the requirements for tuition fee payment evidence for students were introduced last year as part of the Immigration Rebalance.  

Students need to pay tuition fees for the first year, or first programme of study (whichever is the shorter), and they will have to prove personal/maintenance funds for the same period. We do not accept payment of tuition fees by instalment; the only exception is for some aviation students. 

Agent declaration 

If you are providing advice or assistance with a student visa application - DECLARE yourself in the application. Education agents outside New Zealand are permitted to give immigration advice on student visas but must declare themselves in the application. We are seeing increasing numbers of agents not declaring themselves and these applications may take longer to process as a result.  

INZ is intending to resume reporting on agent visa approval rates later this year, probably in September/October. If you are not declaring your involvement in an application, this will have an impact on your publicly available performance information. Education providers in New Zealand will be encouraged to check the agent performance report. 

What's in it for me?