The New Delhi branch of Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has turned down 54 residency applications filed by an unlicensed agent operating in India.
INZ General Manager (Visa Services) Nicola Hogg said that the applications for Permanent Residence in New Zealand were filed by people living in the Chennai (Tamil Nadu) and Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh) regions through ‘Opulentus Overseas Careers’ and that the consultancy was not licensed by the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA) based in Auckland.
“INZ takes this matter extremely seriously. Our investigators in New Delhi have established that applicants paid Opulentus to represent them in their visa applications and they were asked to deny the involvement of any immigration adviser if questioned by INZ,” Ms Hogg said.
She added that only licensed advisers are authorised to provide immigration advice to potential immigrants and other applicants. Lawyers with a current practising certificate issued in New Zealand are exempt from the provisions of the Act.
The Immigration Advisers Licensing Act, which came into full force on May 4, 2010, makes it mandatory for all immigration advisers and agents operating in New Zealand and other parts of the world to obtain a license from IAA. It also specifies that the license should be renewed annually and that INZ would not process applications filed by unlicensed agents or those licenses that are not current.
Opulentus had neither licensed immigration advisers nor exempt people. As a result, INZ declined all applications submitted by the company. The Company’s website however claimed that it is the world’s ‘Super Visa Specialist,’ with 90% success rate in processing all types of visas.’
Ms Hogg urged people seeking immigration advice to read the Authority’s Immigration Advice Consumer Guide.
“The Guide specifies who can give advice, how to use a licensed immigration adviser and what to do if they have a problem with their adviser. Licensed advisers are listed in IAA’s online register (www.iaa.govt.nz)” Ms Hogg said.
Fraudulent recruitment agents have been operating in India for many years but the Act had reportedly brought most advisers under a disciplined regime. Some years ago, the Overseas Indian Affairs (OIA) Ministry in New Delhi launched a campaign to cleanse the Indian market of unscrupulous elements, who were perpetrating fraud and fleecing unsuspecting customers.
“In some cases, it is a rip off and the government is determined to root out this evil but public cooperation is essential,” official sources said.