More than 270 cases of immigration fraud involving student visas have been uncovered through Immigration New Zealand's Beijing branch.
The students were enrolled at 20 Auckland education providers, but Immigration New Zealand said there was no evidence the schools were involved in the scam.
Head of Immigration Steve Stuart said the fraud included fake qualifications and falsified bank statements.
The fraud was picked up through a random sampling of student visa applications.
A total of 279 applications have been confirmed to contain some form of fraud, with 231 of these people currently living in New Zealand.
Sixty of the 231 people have expired visas and will be deported, while the remaining 171 are on valid visas and may become liable for deportation depending on their individual circumstances, Stuart said.
The other 48 people involved have either left New Zealand or have not yet travelled here and will be prevented from doing so.
Immigration officials began contacting and interview those involved in the fraud today.
Stuart said that was likely to take several weeks, with each case being considered on its merits.
"It's important to note that, as opposed to anyone who departs voluntarily, anyone who is deported is unable to return to New Zealand for five years," Stuart said.
He said there was no evidence any of the education providers were involved in the fraud.
"Our investigations are continuing but at this stage it appears that two agents in China have facilitated these fraudulent applications."
Stuart said maintaining the integrity of New Zealand's immigration system was of paramount importance and this type of visa fraud was taken very seriously.
Anyone in this situation is asked to contact Immigration New Zealand on 0508 558 855.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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