16 Dec 2018

Businessman gets immigration adviser licence back after fraud concerns

2:39 pm on 16 December 2018

An Indian businessman has got his New Zealand immigration adviser's licence back two years after his agency appeared on a list of fraudsters.

Vinod Kumar

Vinod Kumar Photo: RNZ/ supplied

Vinod Kumar gave up his licence in late 2016 after his case triggered debate in Parliament about the lack of control over advisers.

The Immigration Advisers Authority issued Mr Kumar a provisional licence earlier this month.

His Kiwi Studies agency in Amritsar had previously sent hundreds of students to this country each year.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said if an applicant met the requirements of the licensing act, the registrar must issue a licence.

"Mr Kumar expressed interest in reapplying for his licence in late 2017 and took appropriate steps to do so," it said in a statement.

The advisers authority considered "the concerns that had been raised, and through this assessment process covered matters of competence and fitness... as is the case for all provisional licence holders, the IAA will continue to monitor Mr Kumar in his status as a provisional licence holder".

The number of study visa applications lodged in India to come to this country has been fluctuating, though last year it plummeted, as did the proportion of applications that were rejected, sometimes due to fraud concerns.

This follows the introduction of tougher rules by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) prompted by a surge of fraudulent applications.

Vinod Kumar declined an interview but in an email told RNZ: "You will be pleased that I have been re-licensed after authorities being satisfied that I have never made any kind of fraud."

Mr Kumar's relicensing has dismayed Hemant Kaushal in Auckland.

"What is the message being sent out to other licensed advisers like me who honour the provisions of the code of the conduct and have based their practice on ethics and quality?" he said by email to RNZ.

"I am dejected with this decision as the IAA and INZ expect the strictest of compliance from ... advisers ... Is this how they plan to incentivise recruitment of quality students from the Indian market?"

The Government is investigating the exploitation of migrants and foreign students, but at the same time is aiming to boost the foreign student industry from $4.5 billion to $6b a year by 2025.

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