Govt letting false student visa crisis happen - ex-workers

(iStock / file)
(iStock / file)

Two former Immigration officers are blaming the Government for hundreds of international students arriving here on false visas.

They say lax regulation around student agents in India is jeopardising New Zealand's international reputation as a desirable place to study.

Karnal, a small town a few hours outside of Delhi, is described as a hot bed for corrupt student agents.

The main street is littered with signage, selling foreign education to wannabe students - and charging thousands of dollars for the privilege. 

Rajni Garg and Pankaj Malhotra worked for Immigration New Zealand assessing visa applications and are now agents themselves.

They say New Zealand is letting dodgy agents get away with corrupt and fraudulent behaviour, and are making billions of dollars in the process.

"In the whole dirty scenario, Immigration has got its fees, the education provider has been paid their fee and the agent has walked off with his commission, and who's been left handling the baby is the student," says Mr Garg.

New Zealand makes $3.3 billion every year from international students. Almost 30,000 arrived from India last year, worth $600 million.

And the agents in India are making sure they're getting their cut. Up to half the fees charged by the schools in New Zealand can end up lining their pockets.

There are around 2200 agents in India, the vast majority with no qualifications.

In fact, all you need to become one is an address and an email, and you're open for business.

"In India, every Tom Dick and Harry and his dog can become an agent," Mr Garg says.

"They don't need any qualifications, they don't need any code of conduct."

So they're calling for a register of approved agents, but today Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce rejected that.

"The steps we are taking is a new code of practice which makes providers responsible for the behaviour of their agents," he says.

It means the corrupt and fraudulent agents can still operate but if they get caught, it's the New Zealand education providers that will pay.