No amnesty for New Zealand visa scam victims

Hundreds of Pacific Island people reportedly bought the fake New Zealand visas during meetings in Auckland and Hamilton.

Many of the purchasers had already overstayed their New Zealand visas and were told the new visas would protect them from being deported.

Police have charged the scheme's organiser Gerard Otimi with three counts of deception.

Green MP Keith Locke asked Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman at Parliament's transport and industrial relations select committee hearing if the Government would consider offering an amnesty.

"Have you given consideration to an amnesty for settled overstayers who have contributed to society and haven't committed any crime?"

Dr Coleman said the Government had looked at the issue but decided amnesties did not work.

In 2000, when there were 20,700 overstayers, only 5000 took the opportunity, he said.

Dr Coleman said the Government did not want people to think of overstaying as an avenue towards residency.

"Overstaying is not a pathway to staying in New Zealand. We certainly don't want to send that message through by offering an amnesty.

He said if people came forward voluntarily their chances of staying were far higher than if apprehended by authorities.

The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in New Zealand visas and immigration.