Up to 1200 Filipino farm workers may be in the country illegally, after a major immigration scam was uncovered.
The suspected ringleader – a Waikato-based Filipino woman well known in the community – has been arrested for allegedly taking thousands of dollars in exchange for fraudulent applications.
Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse says there is a large-scale problem, with potentially more than 1000 workers here illegally.
There are 1700 Filipino farm workers in New Zealand and the Government says up to 70 percent are here as part of scam. That means 1190 are potentially illegal.
The Filipino applicant would pay thousands of dollars to the alleged ringleader, who would then submit false New Zealand employer details and worker experience to get a visa. Big money could be involved.
Filipino workers are crucial in the dairy industry in Canterbury and Southland, filling a share milker shortage. It is peak milking time right now, which means there could be an amnesty for the workers caught out.