BAGAN DATUK: Foreign students in the country can look forward to receiving their visas within 14 days in the near future, instead of having to wait one month as they do now, said the Deputy Prime Minister.
Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said he has set this new target for the Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS) and Immigration Department, which together streamline the foreign student visa process.
“We need to assess the enrolment of foreign students coming here because they trust Malaysia’s quality of education.
“However, they are facing major problems in terms of obtaining their visas as both EMGS and Immigration now have a backlog of 4,000 applications.
“There are also those who had to wait three to six months before finally having their visas issued to them,” he told reporters after launching the FitPerak event yesterday.
He said backlogs are often caused by internal problems in EMGS, Immigration and the educational institutions where the foreign students were registered.
“Apart from setting the new target of 14 days, I have also instructed for 10 additional officers at the Immigration Department to focus on clearing the backlogs,” he said.
Dr Ahmad Zahid also said that a temporary foreign student visa would be issued to each one who submits a visa application after a background check with Interpol.
“I must stress that despite this decision, we will not compromise on national safety – we will also make use of the Advanced Passenger Screening System, or APSS.
“Once they have been cleared, they can continue their studies here with ease,” he said.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said the aim to simplify the visa application process is in line with the Government’s goal to have 200,000 foreign students in Malaysian institutions by 2020.
The number, he said, currently stands at 157,000.
He said parents or guardians of foreign students may also be issued visas to live in the country, as a step to further encourage foreign students’ enrolments.
“There are such requests made by parents and guardians, especially those from the Middle East, because it is their culture for them to take care of their children,” he said.
Speaking on another issue, Dr Ahmad Zahid urged NGOs and associations not to be cynical about the Government’s decision to issue temporary visas to illegal foreign workers in the country.
“While we will not compromise with those who bring in foreign workers illegally, we are simply trying to accommodate the needs of those who face a shortage of workers and have to sustain business operations.
“We have decided to provide a leeway for illegal foreign workers for the sake of their wellbeing and for the benefit of our export value and national productivity,” he said.
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