Acting Immigration Minister Kate Wilkinson and Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce have welcomed today’s operation by Immigration New Zealand to take action with a number of people who are in New Zealand as a result of student visa fraud. “This fraud was uncovered in a regular audit by Immigration New Zealand. It’s pleasing to see this kind of illegal activity detected and acted on quickly,” Ms Wilkinson says. The fraud involved 279 student visas processed at Immigration New Zealand’s Beijing branch, and action is now underway to find the 231 students who are presently in New Zealand.
Ms Wilkinson says it appears that two agents in China were responsible for the fraudulent visas. “Ministers have been regularly briefed over the last few weeks as investigations have been carried out and those investigations have led to today’s actions,” Ms Wilkinson says. Mr Joyce says the fraud, though significant, represents a very small percentage of the 25,000 applications received from Chinese students each year. “We pride ourselves on the high quality of our international education, and this is a very important industry for New Zealand,” Mr Joyce says.
“100,000 international student visa applications are received each year and we want to ensure that we do everything we can to maintain that reputation and the integrity of our student visa system. Government agencies, including the New Zealand Qualifications Authority and Education New Zealand, will continue to work closely with Immigration New Zealand as this issue is resolved.