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Arrest over Filipino dairy workers Wednesday, 21 October 2015

A dual Filipino / New Zealand national has been arrested and charged with offences relating to a suspected fraud involving multiple work visa applications submitted by Filipinos to work in the New Zealand dairy industry.

The woman - who cannot be named at this stage for legal reasons - was arrested at her home in the Waikato yesterday. She has been charged with three offences under the Crimes Act 1961 and has been given police bail until her first court appearance next Tuesday, 27 October. It is likely that further charges will be laid when she appears in court.

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) Assistant General Manager Peter Elms says INZ first became aware of potential issues with applications from some Filipino nationals working on dairy farms in the South Island in February this year.

“Staff in our Christchurch office noticed discrepancies over qualifications and false claims of work experience,” Mr Elms says. “INZ began a formal investigation in March this year which has focused on the woman who has been charged yesterday.”

He says that the investigation has uncovered more widespread concerns of false or misleading information being provided in work visa applications submitted by Filipino nationals.

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. It appears that the actual employers were not aware that the work visas had originally been gained using false employer details.

Mr Elms says that as a result of the case INZ has reviewed all work visa applications from Filipino nationals applying from the Philippines to work in the New Zealand dairy industry in the last 12 months. That review has highlighted the possibility of this type of scam being more widespread. INZ has since strengthened its verification processes and is confident that similar offending has been prevented.

“INZ has been undertaking additional measures to ensure that all documents submitted in support of new and existing visa applications for work in the dairy industry are genuine,” Mr Elms says. “These extra measures have resulted in an unavoidable delay in processing applications but we are working closely with the dairy industry to minimise the disruption.

“In the meantime INZ wants to reassure employers that dairy workers onshore remaining with the same employer are not being disadvantaged by any delay in processing their applications as their current immigration status is being preserved by the grant of interim visas.”

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