Hundreds of Lankans in New Zealand illegally

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –Hundreds of students from Sri Lanka are reportedly in New Zealand illegally, with officials currently conducting investigations into claims of a major scam involving student visa applications from Sri Lanka.

The New Zealand immigration office in Mumbai that handles Sri Lankan applications received a tip off at the start of the year.

Radio New Zealand said inquiries led officials to conclude a Sri Lankan based finance company was fraudulently creating documentation to help students meet the criteria of having $15,000 in the bank ew Zealand’s Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said investigations are under way into the potential involvement of education agents in Sri Lanka, the finance company and students as a result of these revelations.

There were 88 pending applications when the fraud was discovered and after further checks were done 83 were declined. The tip-off was received in January. Immigration Minister Iain-Lees Galloway said officials did not yet know how many fraudulent applications may have slipped through the net.

He said there could potentially be hundreds of students in New Zealand illegally. Officials were going through 895 applications that came from Sri Lanka through the Mumbai office, to identify which ones contained information from the fraudulent finance company. The New Zealand government would not, however, be challenging any visas other than the original 88 when the fraud was discovered. From 2015 to 2017 there were about 5000 student visa applications from Sri Lanka of which about 3800 were approved.

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