New Zealand to discuss visa fraud with China

Updated: 2012-07-25 15:21


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WELLINGTON, New Zealand - A senior New Zealand immigration official is to meet Chinese authorities this week to discuss possible legal action against an agent who is alleged to have been responsible for almost 300 fraudulent student visa applications, according to a report Wednesday.

Head of immigration at Immigration New Zealand Steve Stuart was currently in China visiting the department's Shanghai and Beijing offices as part of the investigation into the issuing of 279 fraudulent student visas, Radio New Zealand reported.

Investigators had found the fraudulent documents, which were all likely to have been submitted to its Beijing office by one immigration agent, he told Radio New Zealand.

The man's motivations for allegedly committing the fraud were still unknown and he had refused to be interviewed, he said.

Stuart would meet Chinese authorities this week to discuss what action they could take against the agent, said the report.

INZ officials initially suspected two agents were involved when they revealed the fraud earlier this month, but the report said the investigation was focusing on one man only.

Stuart told Radio New Zealand that students interviewed by investigators in New Zealand said they were unaware the agent was using false documents in their applications.

He said decisions on whether to deport the students still in New Zealand on fraudulent visas would be made on an individual basis.

Last week, INZ general manager Peter Elms said 246 people who fraudulently obtained a visa were still in New Zealand, and the deportation process had begun against some of those found.

A total of 74 were unlawful as their visas had expired and were liable for deportation. The remaining 172 were on current but fraudulently obtained visas and could become liable for deportation depending on their circumstances.