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National questions offshore immigration offices

Hon Lockwood Smith
National Party Immigration Spokesman

23 May 2006

National questions offshore immigration offices

National’s Immigration spokesman, Lockwood Smith, says the problem of guardians of international students scamming the visa system may be worse than the Government has acknowledged.

The Government has moved to close a loophole in the Immigration Act which allowed guardians of foreign fee-paying students to gain work permits, in turn saving tens of thousands of dollars in student fees.

Dr Smith says he understands that, in some instances, offshore immigration officers have issued work permits to guardians who had been previously rejected by New Zealand-based immigration staff.

“This raises serious questions about our offshore immigration offices. If an application is declined in New Zealand how can it then be accepted in another country?

“It must also be asked if this kind of practice is taking place with regard to other categories of migrants. If someone is denied a residency permit, for example, in New Zealand, do they have the option of obtaining one through a New Zealand immigration office elsewhere?

“Labour created a loophole wide enough to drive a bus through that allowed international students to scam our schools out of tens of thousands of dollars. I am pleased they have closed that but they must now turn their attention to the wider issue of the integrity of offshore offices,” says Dr Smith.

ENDS

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