28 Jul 2012

Lawyers push to protect immigration fraud complainants

9:14 pm on 28 July 2012

Immigration lawyers say overstayers need stronger protection to encourage them to report visa scams.

The call comes ahead of a public meeting in Auckland on Saturday about a bogus visa scheme thought to have fleeced hundreds of Tongan overstayers.

Police, the Immigration Advisers Authority and Immigration New Zealand will be at the meeting, and victims of the visa scam are being encouraged to attend to lay complaints.

Lawyer Amelia Schaafsays many of them have not done so because they are afraid of being picked up by the police and deported.

She says one of the aims of the meeting is to push for more formal protection for those who report immigration fraud.

Ms Schaaf says that should include a grace period during which they would not be deported.

Immigration New Zealand says overstayers can attend the meeting without fear of repercussions, although it is not offering an amnesty.