The New Zealand border is currently closed to all but New Zealand citizens and residents and their immediate family members travelling with them. However, the New Zealand government acknowledges that there may be extremely limited circumstances where it is appropriate for a person who is not exempt from the border restrictions to travel to New Zealand.
Exceptions are only in place for extreme circumstances where people have a critical purpose for travel to New Zealand, including:
Immigration New Zealand has now received 21,341 expressions of interest (EOI) from people who believe they meet exemptions to the border closure. Of the 20,922 EOIs decided so far, 4,029 meet the criteria and have been invited to apply for a visa.
Around 30% of people applying for exemptions do so as family members of NZ citizens or residents, 24% for humanitarian reasons and 20% as partners of temporary work visa holders in New Zealand who are normally resident in NZ.
As you will be aware, processing of visa applications for offshore applicants has been on hold to date. This is because legally Immigration New Zealand is not able to grant a visa to individuals who are unlikely to meet entry requirements.
The bar for being granted an exemption to the border restrictions is very high and people who are not New Zealand citizens or residents are unlikely to meet entry requirements as a result of the border restrictions.
They are working through options to recommence processing for a limited range of offshore visa applications.
This will help reduce the backlog of applications waiting to be processed when the border restrictions are lifted.
Visa applications that have already been submitted will remain in the processing queue and will be processed as soon as border restrictions are lifted, and individuals are likely to meet entry requirements.
Individuals who are offshore are currently still able to make an application. However, most individuals will not meet the strict border exemption criteria to be granted entry in New Zealand. Therefore, their application is unlikely to be processed at this time.
Individuals who are granted a border exemption are invited to apply for a visa that best fits their circumstances or to vary their visa conditions if they already have one. However, the bar for being granted an exemption to the border restrictions is set high to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of people already in New Zealand. Individual requests for exemptions to the border restrictions are considered against the strict criteria as set out in immigration instructions.
The coronavirus crisis (COVID-19) has reshaped the world as we know it, and the education industry is not immune.
This has led to the international education sector facing unprecedented challenges and demands, with many institutions uncertain what the next academic year will hold, both operationally and financially. In this new normal, international education is likely to be a complex and competitive space.
As education providers make a mass move to digital platforms and tools, the shift is being debated extensively. Online learning has become a norm across the global higher education sector. It will be interesting to see how the COVID-19 crisis and the subsequent shift to online learning change global attitudes towards distance learning and digital learning platforms.
The pandemic has forced international students to change their study plans, as the global health situation changes and the borders remain closed. Although New Zealand, at some point in time, will start welcoming international students again, it needs to make sure it is done in a way that is safe for everyone.
During these turbulent times, prospective international students have a range of pressing concerns and needs that education providers need to address. The education provider that can give up-to-date information and communicate the pandemic’s impact on students clearly along with likely solutions will have the edge over its competitors.
To aid students and provide a solution-oriented approach, flexibility in application processes and scholarships may be considered to demonstrate that New Zealand education providers are a definite source of support in this area.
While these measures are not all, out of box thinking and coming up with some more options will prove to be a source of attraction for quality international students.
Flexibility and implementation of innovative ideas will be essential in the coming months as the education sector adapts to this new normal.
PTE is continuing to reopen their test centre network in more countries and cities globally. Testing for PTE Academic for all New Zealand and Australian visas.
In New Zealand, they reopened with partner sites allowing applicants to resume delivery of test sessions in June.
All test centres have been opened in strict compliance with local authority requirements and with all necessary health and safety measures, in light of Covid-19.
Read more about testing availability in specific countries here
In China, testing has resumed in most existing centres and they have also added more capacity through temporary test centres – giving test-takers an ever wider choice of locations and booking availability.
The centres are in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Hangzhou, Jinan, Nanjing, Shenzhen, Wuhan, and Zhengzhou, with some cities having multiple sites.