The fraud targeted student visas and consisted predominantly of fake qualifications and falsified bank statements. Twenty education providers – all in the Auckland area – have been identified as having enrolled people implicated in the fraud.
Head of Immigration New Zealand Steve Stuart
“There is no evidence that any of the education providers have been involved in the fraud,” said head of immigration, Steve Stuart. “Our investigations are continuing but at this stage it appears that two agents in China have facilitated these fraudulent applications.”
A total of 231 people who fraudulently obtained the visas are presently in New Zealand. The other 48 have either already left or have not yet travelled there and will be prevented from doing so.
“Of the 231 individuals who are in New Zealand, 60 are unlawful as their visas have expired and they are liable for deportation,” he said. “The remaining 171 are on valid visas and they may become liable for deportation depending on their individual circumstances.”
“Yesterday (Wednesday) we located 10, and of those 10, nine were issued with deportation liability notices which in effect gives them notice to leave the country,” Stuart told Radio Australia.
“We located 10, and of those 10, nine were issued with deportation liability notices”
Authorities say further investigation is likely to take several weeks as each case will be considered on its merits. Those implicated are liable to be served deportation orders if unlawful or served deportation liability notices if on a valid visa. If deported they will be unable to enter New Zealand for five years.
Stuart says that maintaining the integrity of New Zealand’s immigration system is of paramount importance and this type of visa fraud is taken very seriously.
Around 100,000 foreign students enrol to study in New Zealand every year with China being the largest source, sending over a quarter of the total number of overseas students.