Two South African maths teachers have been unable to start work at Rangitoto College because of delays in getting visas and New Zealand teacher registration.
College principal Patrick Gale said the two teachers were both "well qualified and experienced" but he had put relief teachers into their classes because they could not clear all bureaucratic hurdles in time for the start of the school year.
"Both are very stressed by the process they have had to go through and desperate to get here and start teaching their classes," he said.
"One is stalled at the Education Council in the final stages of approval for a practising certificate apparently – has taken over two months for this to occur.
"The other is awaiting the go-ahead from NZ Immigration and we are liaising via email with their New Delhi office to try and speed this up. Both of them have come to us via a recruitment company."
The delays have come despite changes announced just before Christmas which were supposed to fast-track registration for teachers with pre-approved qualifications from South Africa, Britain, Ireland, Canada and Fiji.
Secondary Principals Association president Mike Williams said he was not aware of other teachers held up by visa delays, but immigration rules were still a barrier to solving the teacher shortage.
"Teaching is not on the priority list for immigration," he said.
"We talked to the previous Government last year about that at length. We haven't had much impact with the new Government, although the Ministry [of Education] had a taskforce working on it and they are well aware of it."
He said the current rules gave extra points to immigrants settling outside Auckland, even though the teacher shortage was worse in Auckland. A fifth of Auckland schools, but only a tenth of schools outside Auckland, were still advertising for teachers when the school year opened last week.
"I'm told there are a lot of teachers on the borderline, if they come to Auckland they don't get it [a work visa]. That's not helping Auckland at all," he said.
Post Primary Teachers Association president Jack Boyle said teachers should be added to the immigration priority list.
"There is a demonstrable shortage of a professional group and they are not on the priority immigration list," he said. "I would like to see a case made for why there should be priority status for professional teachers when there is a shortage."
Immigration NZ area manager Marcelle Foley said the skill shortage lists were reviewed every year and this year's review would begin in April.
"The review process invites sector representatives to nominate occupations to be included in a review," she said.
"There are several visas available to international teachers wanting to work in New Zealand. These vary by visa duration, cost and the time involved to approve an application.
"Each and every visa application that Immigration NZ receives is considered on its own individual merit and against immigration instructions applicable to that particular visa category.
"Much of the information required in a visa application for teachers is dependent on decisions from other agencies, for example confirmation of qualifications.
"It's important to stress that the applications to INZ must show proof of genuine attempts to recruit a New Zealand citizen or resident."