Student visa immigration fraud uncovered
Wed, 11 Jul 2012 2:05p.m.
More than 230 people are in New Zealand as a result of fraudulent student visa applications made through Immigration New Zealand's Beijing branch.
Head of Immigration Steve Stuart says the fraud targeted student visas and involved mainly fake qualifications and falsified bank statements.
Mr Stuart said random sampling showed 279 student visa applications have been confirmed to contain some form of fraud.
He said 231 people who fraudulently obtained visas are currently in New Zealand.
Sixty of those people are in the country unlawfully and will be liable for deportation, because their visas have expired.
"The remaining 171 are on valid visas and they may become liable for deportation depending on their individual circumstances," Mr Stuart said.
The other 48 people have either already left New Zealand, or haven't yet arrived and will be prevented from doing so.
Twenty education providers, all in the Auckland area, have been identified as having enrolled people implicated in the fraud.
"There is no evidence that any of the education providers have been involved in the fraud," Mr Stuart said.
"Our investigations are continuing but at this stage it appears that two agents in China have facilitated these fraudulent applications."
An operation is now under way to contact and interview those involved, but Immigration New Zealand says that is likely to take several weeks.
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