06 October 2008

33 pilgrims in NZ still "missing"

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In the lead-up to the World Youth Day in Sydney during August, 40 Indian pilgrims went missing in New Zealand. After some time, seven of the original group had either turned themselves in or had been found by immigration officials. On Friday 3 October, Immigration New Zealand admitted to not being able to find 33 of the illegal immigrants, reports AFP.

The 40 pilgrims claimed they had been misled by fraudulent travel agents in India, who sold them what they believed to be a visa for New Zealand.  The group thought the visas would allow them to stay in the country permanently, and each pilgrim paid USD$11,200 for these false visas.  The group was issued with New Zealand visitor visas when they arrived at New Zealand customs and were given a month to visit the country and no longer.

A spokesperson from the Department of Labour said they are concentrating all their resources to find and deport the illegal immigrants.

The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people emigrate to New Zealand.

Article by Jessica Bird, New Zealand Visa Bureau.

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