Immigration Act 2009

New Zealand education providers commit an offence if they allow, or continue to allow, students to study in New Zealand knowing they’re not entitled to. This offence comes under section 352 of the Immigration Act 2009 (the Act).

We would consider a provider knowing a student wasn’t entitled to study, if an immigration officer had informed them in writing in the last 12 months.

Students may not be entitled to study in New Zealand when they’re here unlawfully. We would consider someone to be here unlawfully if they:

  • are not a New Zealand citizen or do not hold a New Zealand residence class visa
  • do not hold a current visa to be in New Zealand.

Defence and penalties

There is a defence under this section of the Act, where an education provider can show that they didn’t know the student wasn’t entitled to study. The provider must demonstrate that they took ‘reasonable precautions’ and ‘exercised due diligence’ to find out if the person was entitled to study their course.

The penalty for allowing a student to study a course when they’re not entitled to study is a fine of up to NZD $30,000, or up to NZD $50,000 where the provider has knowingly done so.

Under the Act, immigration officers have powers to enter an education provider’s premises and inspect their records.

Compulsory education providers

The above applies to post-compulsory education providers only. Providers of compulsory education cannot be prosecuted for enrolling an unlawful child. Immigration officers cannot use their powers of entry and inspection to search the records of compulsory education providers.

Immigration Act 2009: Education providers [DOL 11549] PDF 198KB