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Closing loophole won’t fix offshore offices

Hon Dr Lockwood Smith
National Party Immigration Spokesman

26 May 2006

Closing loophole won’t fix offshore offices

Immigration Minister David Cunliffe's claim this week that the Government is closing a loophole in guardian visas does not stand up to scrutiny because questions about its offshore immigration offices remain unanswered, says National’s Immigration spokesman, Dr Lockwood Smith.

The Government says it 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.

But Dr Smith says the case of a Korean man who was twice refused a work permit in New Zealand, only to be granted one in South Korea, shows the problem could be worse than the Government has acknowledged.

"A guardian visa doesn’t automatically entitle someone to a work permit. Clearly, someone in an offshore office has been making decisions to grant work permits to people who do not meet Immigration New Zealand’s own conditions.

"This evidence of suspect decision-making has emerged only because schools must see appropriate documentation to support any change in status from foreign fee-paying student to domestic student.

”Other residence and work permit approvals would not normally be scrutinised in this way.

”This means the guardian problem could be just the tip of the iceberg.

"I want to know what the Minister is doing to put in place quality control measures to assure the integrity of Immigration New Zealand decisions around the world," says Dr Smith.


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