Migrant workers are being urged to educate their family and friends overseas on spotting potential immigration scams.
Senior Investigator Helen Garratt says immigration scams are nothing new but the rise of social media including apps like WhatsApp means it is becoming easier for people to get pulled into a scam.
“The general rule is if someone offers you a job in New Zealand and it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. However, there are a few hallmarks of scams that people can look out for in order to protect themselves,” Garratt said.
“An employer or a recruiter can’t charge you for a job. So beware of offers asking you to pay a large sum of money in return for a visa and a job. Also, paying a sum to have your visa application fast-tracked is another sign the offer could be a scam.”
The agency is in regular contact with ethnic community leaders and it advises people to not get taken advantage of by unscrupulous individuals looking to profit off people’s desires to work in New Zealand.
“Be careful around job offers promising you will earn an unrealistically high wage or that the job will be a pathway to residency in New Zealand. If they can, people should check directly with the employer that the job offer they have received is genuine,” said Garratt.
INZ’s advice for people who wish to work in New Zealand is to apply through approved pathways rather than via third-party agents using apps.
“All visa fees are on the Immigration website and are far below the cost we are seeing scammers ask migrant workers to pay for the same visa. For instance, an Accredited Employer Work Visa [AEWV] for someone applying from India is $750,” Garratt said.
MBIE (the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) has received 1985 complaints against accredited employers, and 136 have had their accreditation revoked and 51 suspended.
At present, 167 active investigations on accredited employers are under way, with 51 under assessment to have their accreditation revoked.
The AEWV scheme is currently under review.
Garratt said people wanting to seek advice should look for licensed immigration advisers who have specialist expertise.
“Avoid the pitfalls of receiving illegal immigration advice. Unlicensed people may not be honest with you or INZ,” Garratt said.
She said INZ also may not accept a visa application from unlicensed people acting illegally.
Garratt noted that migrant workers have the same minimum employment rights as New Zealand workers, as stated on the Employment New Zealand website.
Those concerned with an application can contact the Immigration Service Centre to discuss it. Call 0508 558 855 if in New Zealand or +64 9 914 4100 if calling from overseas.