12 Jul 2012

Immigration NZ makes changes after visa fraud

2:45 pm on 12 July 2012

Immigration New Zealand says it has made changes since it discovered nearly 300 cases of fraud in student visa applications from China.

The service revealed on Wednesday that 279 student applications originating from China have been found to contain some form of fraud.

Of that, 231 people are in New Zealand, the remainder have either left the country or not entered yet. The fraud consists mainly of false qualifications and falsified bank statements.

Acting deputy chief executive of Immigration New Zealand Steve Stuart told Morning Report agents sending applications now are subject to the most thorough verification the agency has in place.

Mr Stuart says applications with false information began 10 months ago and the fraud was detected about six weeks ago.

He told Morning Report that most of the applications came through two agents in China.

Immigration New Zealand had, as of Wednesday, contacted 10 of the 231 people in New Zealand and nine have been issued with deportation liability notices.

Mr Stuart says the agency is interviewing students to determine what knowledge they had of falsified information submitted in applications.

Immigration advisers 'warned Government' over fraud

A Chinese immigration adviser says the industry has lobbied Immigration New Zealand for years to tighten up its licensing requirements.

Chinese immigration adviser Peter Luo, who works in Auckland, says document fraud in China is an everyday reality.

At the moment, immigration advisers are licensed but what are known as education agents are not.

Mr Luo says the industry has been lobbying the Government for several years to license education agents but it has not listened.

Labour's export education spokesperson Raymond Huosaida reduction in funding by the Government is partly to blame for the visa problem.

Mr Huo said the Government had its priorities wrong when it cut $170,000 a year from the budget that funds the regulation of immigration advisors.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is calling on the Government to investigate the company contracted by Immigration New Zealand to process visa applications in China.

Mr Stuart says visa application centres in China, as in any other country, simply receive applications and all processing of documentation is done within Immigration New Zealand in Beijing.