Immigration fraud

Immigration fraud is an offence under the Immigration Act 2009. We have wide-ranging measures to detect and prevent immigration offending.

Immigration fraud includes the following offences:

  • using a false or altered document to support a visa application, for example passport
  • providing false or misleading information to support a visa application
  • helping someone to come to or stay in New Zealand who you know either does not have a visa or does not have the right visa
  • helping someone to come to New Zealand who you deceive about the type of work they will be doing in New Zealand or your reasons for bringing them to New Zealand.

What we do about immigration fraud

We have a team of dedicated fraud investigators who prosecute people for immigration fraud.

The measures we use to prevent and detect immigration offending include:

  • screening all passengers when they check in at overseas airports. We do this to prevent people who pose a risk to the integrity of our immigration system from travelling to New Zealand. We can also question passengers when they arrive in New Zealand
  • sharing biometric information like fingerprints with the United Kingdom, the United States of America (US), Australia, and Canada, which together with New Zealand form the Five Country Conference, a forum for immigration and border security
  • checking all travellers flying to, through or from New Zealand against an international database containing details of all recorded stolen and lost travel documents
  • carefully checking visa applications and verifying any documents provided to support those applications
  • following up on any information we get about potential immigration fraud
  • using technology to detect fraud, eg passport scanners
  • starting a Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme. The scheme allows approved employers to hire workers from various Pacific countries for seasonal work in New Zealand’s horticulture and viticulture industries. It has reduced the exploitation of unlawful foreign workers significantly since it started in 2008.

Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme


Those found guilty of immigration fraud can be imprisoned for up to 7 years and/or fined up to NZ $100,000.

People who use immigration fraud to become New Zealand residents can be deported.

People who use immigration fraud to become New Zealand citizens can lose their citizenship.

Education providers

We work with the Ministry of Education and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority to make sure education providers offer good quality education services to international students.

Providing education for international students adds about NZ $2.3 billion to New Zealand's economy each year, making it one of our top 5 export earners.

If we are unhappy with how an education provider is operating, we can suspend or terminate the processing of applications to study there.

Sex work

People who come to New Zealand on temporary visas are not allowed to work in commercial sexual services. Immigration New Zealand investigates sex workers who try to work illegally. We take action against anyone who hires or helps sex workers come to New Zealand. Sex workers working in New Zealand illegally can be deported and may not be able to return.

Reporting suspected immigration fraud

Anyone who suspects immigration fraud should call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.