Indian students protest deportation at Diwali
Indian students facing deportation for fraud on their visa applications have gate-crashed some Diwali festivities in Auckland today, protesting against plans to send them home.
The 41 students insist they didn't know about the fraud and blame immigration agents back in India.
Diwali is a celebration of the taste, colour and culture of India, but this year some Indian students made it more about their claims of being unfairly punished for fraud and deceit they didn't commit.
The students have been issued with deportation notices after fraudulent financial documents were submitted to Immigration New Zealand on their behalf.
Manoj Nava and Rahul Reddy are just two of the 41 students fighting to stay. They have been in New Zealand just over a year, and in a few weeks' time they will find out if they will be deported.
What they have to prove is that they knew nothing about the fraud on their immigration papers.
"How can we want to cheat the immigration?" says Mr Nava. "We want to come here to study and achieve something. We want experience in the job so it can be good for business in India."
"Consider us and know that it is the agents and the education system, not the students," says Mr Reddy. "We are the victims here."
Nine of the students facing deportation are being represented by immigration lawyer Alastair McClymont.
He told Newshub: "Immigration New Zealand are investigating as to whether or not the students may have known what the agents were doing. Some of them were never interviewed by Immigration NZ and asked about fraudulent documents, but some were."
About 22,000 Indian students study in New Zealand each year, but now they are being warned to check any visa documentation they sign.