26 November 2012

Crackdown on colleges in New Zealand visa scam

New Zealand immigration authorities have suspended New Zealand visa applications from four private colleges after an investigation found their complicity in an illegal labour scam involving international students.

New Zealand visa

The investigation found international students enrolled at the four PTEs were not completing the 20 hours minimum study required by their New Zealand visa.

A joint operation carried out by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) and Immigration New Zealand (INZ) revealed that four Private Training Establishments (PTEs) knowingly enrolled international students who had obtained a New Zealand visa fraudulently.

The investigation claimed the students entered the country with the intention of working rather than studying; INZ have since acted to remove the PTEs' ability to process visa applications after finding them to be 'non-compliant with their obligations in respect to international students".

"INZ will now suspend the processing of student visa applications for the four institutions for failing to comply with their obligations under the Education Act 1989 and the Immigration Act 2009," said an INZ spokesperson.

"The suspensions will not be lifted until they are fully compliant."

Peter Elms, INZ general manager, said the majority of the international students were studying less than the minimum 20 hours a week stipulated in their visa conditions, were maintaining poor attendance records and had significant discrepancies in fees. However, Mr Elms said the most concerning factor in the investigation was the role of the four PTEs.

"It is concerning that these private training establishments have been operating in a manner that falls well below minimum standards and, in so doing, jeopardising the quality of education provided to their international students," he said.

"The actions of a handful of PTEs can have serious implications for the reputation of New Zealand as a quality education destination.

"We are determined to maintain the integrity of the export education industry and New Zealand's reputation as a quality destination and we owe it to the vast majority of high quality PTEs to take a firm stance on this issue."

The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy that specialises in helping people apply for a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa.

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