07 September 2007

Warning to fraudulent immigration agents protects applicants for New Zealand visa

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A New Zealand immigration agent has been convicted on 24 charges of using forged documents and supplying false information to help his clients get a New Zealand visa under the New Zealand immigration skilled migrant category. He was sentenced to two years and seven months in jail and the case sends a strong message to immigration agents who try to bend the rules.

Carl Manning, Investigations Manager for the New Zealand Department of Labour explained how Romney Lavea arranged false offers of employment to satisfy criteria for residence applications under the skilled migrant category, mostly during 2003 and 2004.

As a result the department has implemented an immigration advisors licensing system, including requiring agents to meet competency standards and checking for previous convictions. Mr Manning said: "The department takes immigration fraud extremely seriously." The steps taken by the department are reassuring for legitimate applicants for a New Zealand visa.

"Many people use immigration agents to help with the process of applying to visit, live or work in New Zealand, and the majority of these agents provide a legitimate, professional service," he said.

"Unfortunately, some take advantage of the system, and this can have real consequences on the people making applications."

Over the past five years, 220 people have been convicted for providing false qualifications, job offers, or other misleading information. The department has also conducted 19 fraud prosecutions against improper conduct by consultants.

New Zealand needs skilled workers: anyone interested in New Zealand immigration should complete the New Zealand Visa Bureau's online New Zealand visa assessment to see if they qualify for a New Zealand visa.

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