Delays in Malaysia’s new visa processing system

June 26, 2013

The agency tasked with streamlining visa applications for international students seeking higher education opportunities in Malaysia has admitted teething problems in vetting processes.

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As previously reported,Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS) was established to promote Malaysia as a global education destination and profile, monitor and track foreign students travelling to the country for higher education purposes. However, since operations began in February, approximately 60 per cent of international student visa applications received have not been completed within the stipulated 14-day timeframe.

Acknowledging delays, EMGS Chief Executive Officer, Yazid Hamid, cited a number of factors that had contributed to the backlog including a lack of personnel, especially within the Immigration Department in Putrajaya (25 kilometres south of Kuala Lumpur), incomplete paper work and outstanding documentation.

However, Hamid added that the agency was now working towards improving the system. “We’re working things out. We’re handing over a lot of applications to the Immigration Department but the output is not consistent. We need to bridge the gap and ensure that there is consistency in the number of applications submitted and those approved or declined.”

Hamid insisted EMGS was capable of delivering student visas within the specified 14-day timeframe if all documentation, submitted by colleges on behalf of students, was complete. “We’re now placing additional resources to clear the backlog. We can do it in 14 days without having to give any discount to validity,” he said.

Hamid added that better communication between the agency and the immigration authorities would help processes become more efficient going forward and that they plan to have dedicated immigration officers on site at their Kuala Lumpur-based office to enhance services.

The agency has also been criticised for the high processing fees imposed on international students. Combined with processing delays, some fear this could lead to a downturn in international student enrolments, affecting the Malaysian Higher Education Ministry’s ambitious plans to attract 200,000 international students by the year 2020.

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