Woman arrested over dodgy dairy visas
A woman has been charged with fraud over a host of work visa applications submitted by Filipinos to work in the New Zealand dairy industry.
The woman, who has joint Filipino and New Zealand citizenship, was arrested at her Waikato home on Tuesday and charged with three offences.
She appears in court on October 27 and Immigration NZ says she is likely to face more charges.
The charges arise after concerns were raised by Immigration staff about some Filipino applications for South Island jobs in February.
"Staff in our Christchurch office noticed discrepancies over qualifications and false claims of work experience," said INZ assistant general manager Peter Elms.
An investigation was launched in March which focused on the woman arrested on Tuesday.
It is claimed that the woman used New Zealand employers' details without their knowledge in order to secure work visas for Filipino nationals offshore to work in the New Zealand dairy industry.
INZ alleges that once the Filipino nationals arrived in New Zealand they never worked for the supposedly sponsoring employer.
After a short period a fresh application was submitted for a new employer.
Mr Elms says the investigation uncovered more widespread concerns of false or misleading information being provided in work visa applications submitted by Filipino nationals.
He said it has strengthened its verification processes and is confident that similar offending has been prevented.
Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said the arrest was welcomed, but the potential sale of the alleged fraud was concerning.
"It is absolutely imperative that the integrity of the immigration system is maintained and that visa applicants who have lied on their application forms are not rewarded," he said.
There have been delays in processing Filipino applications due to additional checks being carried out but Mr Woodhouse said he was working with officials to minimise the effect on the dairy industry.