BAGAN DATUK: The visa approval period for foreign students in the country has been shortened from 30 days to 14 days.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (pic), who is also Home Minister, said the matter was decided at a high-level meeting on the intake of foreign students chaired by him on Thursday.
He said 10 additional officers would be assigned to the Immigration Department to ensure that the visas would be issued promptly.
"While waiting for approval of the visas, the Government will issue a temporary visa for every application from foreign students after their names have been screened in the Interpol suspects list.
"For the screening, we use the Advance Passenger Screening System (APSS)," he told reporters after the presentation of school aid and excellence prizes to UPSR pupils here Saturday.
Dr Ahmad Zahid attributed the delay of up to 30 days in processing visas for foreign students in part to Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS).
"There is currently a backlog of 4,000 foreign student visa applications due to EMGS's lethargy, both at public and private universities," he said.
EMGS was established as a non-profit company limited by guarantee under the Higher Education Ministry to carry out marketing, promotion and recruitment of international students to Malaysia.
Dr Ahmad Zahid explained that the visa approval process was expedited because foreign students were contributors to the national economy through foreign currency exchange, involving RM5bil annually.
Aside from that, he said, the Government also agreed to provide visas to the students' parents or guardians, particularly from the Middle East, to enable them to stay in Malaysia and take care of their children.
"This is the culture of parents in the Middle East. We will provide them visas but only after security screening, as we cannot compromise on the question of national security," he stressed. - Bernama
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