Immigration New Zealand's woes have continued for another week this week with yet more scandals and allegations surfacing.
Fresh off the back of scandals targeting Tongan citizens and asylum seeker measurse which have have been widely criticised as cruel, expensive and above all unnecessary, New Zealand's conservative National government are struggling for good news to focus on.
Despite easing the work restrictions for foreign workers on ski resorts to obtain a New Zealand visa last week, the news was quickly overshadowed by the unearthing of a major visa scam originating in the Beijing visa office.
And unfortunately for the government, this week has been no different with progress on the Chinese visa scam quickly deflated by fresh accusations regarding New Zealand immigration staff:
New Zealand immigration officials have confirmed that five Chinese nationals have been arrested and detained for their part in a New Zealand visa scam which was uncovered last week...read more.
Over 50 Immigration New Zealand (INZ) staff have been accused of accessing confidential client information without permission since 2004...read more.
Arrests made in New Zealand visa probe
So far 36 people have been
detained with five being
prepared for deportation to China.
New Zealand immigration officials have confirmed that five Chinese nationals have been arrested and detained for their part in a New Zealand visa scam which was uncovered last week.
A routine investigation at the Immigration New Zealand (INZ) office in Beijing last week unearthed almost 300 international students who had either entered the country, or applied to enter the country, on a falsified New Zealand visa.
While it was unclear how many of the 279 remained in the country, INZ began searching for as many as possible immediately.
So far, 36 have been detained with five being prepared for deportation; INZ suspect as many as 246, including 74 who have overstayed their visas, could be liable for deportation.
Of the number detained, eight were found to be working in a vineyard, confirming the suspicion that the visas were falsified so Chinese nationals could pose as students to find work and also putting the employer at risk of prosecution for hiring illegal immigrants.
"We will be investigating any employer implicated in employing student visa holders not entitled to work and will take legal action if appropriate," said INZ General Manager Peter Elms.
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New Zealand immigration staff accused of abusing client data
There are allegations that
Immigration New Zealand staff
inappropriately discussed client
Over 50 Immigration New Zealand (INZ) staff have been accused of accessing confidential client information without permission since 2004.
A total of 51 staff have been implicated in an internal investigation into New Zealand immigration processes in the past nine years, in a practice one complainant, who accused his ex-wife of accessing his details, said was rife.
"When we were still together, I used to accompany her to immigration functions, where one of the most frequent things they talked about was new information they have found in client files," said the complainant.
"Privacy breaches have been going on for years and what we're seeing is that nothing's changed."
The latest investigation is just the most recent in a line of scandals concerning INZ, who have claimed the 51 staff members represent a rare occurrence.
"It's a very small group of people who, on occasion, breach our guidelines," said INZ head Steve Stuart.
"But where we find evidence of inappropriate use of any of our official information, we move on this quickly, both to protect the integrity of the information we hold in trust and the reputation of our people and organisation."
INZ said disciplinary actions taken include formal warnings, counselling and even dismissal yet records uncovered by the New Zealand Herald showed that the majority of actions taken consisted of mere warnings while one staff member who was accused of improperly accessed client files resigned and took a job at the Ministry of Justice, where she was accused of the same breach of trust.
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- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor for the New Zealand Visa Bureau.
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