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NZ: spike in fraudulent visa applications

Confirmed instances of fraudulent information for offshore New Zealand student visa applications almost doubled in 2018, but the majority of false applications continued to be refused without the need for further investigation.

INZ does not investigate the majority of rejections for fraud. Photo: Blake Guidry/UnsplashINZ does not investigate the majority of rejections for fraud. Photo: Blake Guidry/Unsplash

"Processing times will always depend on the complexity of an application"

According to Immigration New Zealand, the number of visa applications confirmed to have misleading information, such as fraudulent bank accounts, funds with no clear origin, or fraudulent qualifications and work experience spiked by 88% in 2018.

“INZ does not dedicate time to confirming fraud where there is no benefit to INZ”

“INZ is focused on ensuring student visa outcomes are of high quality,” said assistant general manager Jeannie Melville.

“As a regulator, INZ needs to balance facilitation and risk which, is why it is critical that the right level of scrutiny is applied to ensure the right decisions are made for New Zealand.”

Speaking to The PIE News, Melville said the figures only applied to applications in which fraudulent activity had been confirmed, noting the majority of misleading applications were rejected without further investigation.

“INZ does not dedicate time to confirming fraud where there is no benefit to INZ,” she said.

“If we are not satisfied with the likely authenticity of the information presented and therefore that an applicant does not meet the relevant instructions, an application may be declined.”

In June, Education New Zealand announced it was working with INZ to investigate ongoing visa processing delays, and Melville said the department was working with other stakeholders to smooth out the process.

“We are also committed to processing visas as fast as practicable and generally do a good job of this when the applications are complete and low risk,” she said.

“However, processing times will always depend on the complexity of an application.”

Melville added INZ would be providing further advice to providers, including guidance on the correct level of information needed for an application, and early submission prior to course commencement.

In 2018, INZ announced the launch of the New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority, which will come into effect on 1 October and impact some short course students.

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