Immigration New Zealand has apologised after it told an Egyptian student his country's political instability was a reason for denying him a visa.
Immigration statistics show at least half of all student applications from Egypt had been declined in each of the last six calendar years.
Mohamed Mansour, who works in marketing in Saudi Arabia, applied for immigration approval to attend a business management course last year.
In a rejection letter, an officer said, "As Egypt is currently politically unstable and it is known people are attempting to leave Egypt I am concerned this may discourage you from returning to your home country on completion of study."
Mansour said although Immigration New Zealand (INZ) had apologised, its reassessment of his application was inadequate.
"I need to tell you that students who applied for a student visa from Egypt their applications [in the past] were processed in Mumbai and many students got an interview call from the immigration officer to discuss with them the application, but recently all Egyptians application were reallocated to Palmerston North office and no immigration officers had any interview with any Egyptian students.
"I hope in the near future INZ stop their discrimination to my people and I share regularly my case via social media to show the other face of New Zealand. Don't trust any New Zealand immigration officers, I tell them they have hidden reasons to decline the visas."
In a statement, Immigration New Zealand said it rejected claims of discrimination.
"Mr Mansour lodged a formal complaint on 25 November 2019 in relation to a reference to political instability in Egypt," said Steve McGill, the acting general manager for border and visa operations.
"INZ acknowledged this reference was incorrect and apologised to Mr Mansour.
"INZ also offered to reassess Mr Mansour's application, which was lodged on 12 December 2019. Based on additional information provided in this application, INZ was satisfied with Mr Mansour's evidence of funds but still did not have enough evidence demonstrating he was a bona fide student. As a result, Mr Mansour's application was declined on 24 December 2019."
It said officers were trained to apply fairness in decision-making and to avoid bias, ensuring that each application was decided on its own merits.
"INZ refutes claims of discrimination," McGill said. "Each application is decided on a case-by-case basis against the relevant immigration instructions. Officers are supervised while in training, their work is regularly checked and reviewed when they are out of training, and INZ has a quality assurance programme that continues to monitor work on a regular basis."
INZ said it did not decline visa applicants based on their country of origin or race.
In the year ended July 2020, 129 student visas were issued to Egyptian nationals, with 33 applications declined.