Tighter laws needed on licencing immigration consultants

A racket run by a Whangarei restaurateur and the boss of a Wellington based immigration consultancy is the latest example of why New Zealand needs to significantly tighten up the licencing process for immigration consultants.

Gurpreet Singh and Graeme Ryan are possibly going to face criminal charges as a result of a scam that saw 17 Indians get residency through a fake consultancy that Mr Ryan established. They would get jobs in return for paying significant fees to Bite Consultancy/BC International, such as a non-existent I.T. job that Karamjeet Singh (no relation)applied for. There was just one problem. The job never existed and Mr Singh lost $35,000.

There are two parallel sets of tasks that need to be happening at the same time in order for this kind of behaviour to stop. First, the authorities need to make clear to migrant communities that scams are a criminal offence in New Zealand and that organizing or assisting one will carry heavy penalties. Second, the authorities need to make clear cut examples of the consequences for those who do run such rackets – heavy fines are not enough; jail time and deportation for those who are not New Zealand permanent residents and citizens is necessary.

Tough talk? Yep. Necessary? Unfortunately, quite necessary. Scams amongst migrant communities we should not be so surprised about as many do not understand that the New Zealand authorities are among the least corrupt in the world, and may be inclined to think that they can get away with such conduct. But to have people who should have a good idea of New Zealand law or least western law such as Mr Ryan involved in such activity suggests that those who know the risks and decided that the illegitimate gains to be had are worth the consequences, tells me clearly that the law needs tightening.

This is by no means the first immigration scam to hit New Zealand and nor will it be the last. Just a few of the more recent ones to have occurred can be seen listed below:

  • In October 2019 red flags were raised over websites purporting to enable Electronic Travel Authorizations or visa’s to New Zealand
  • Numerous scams including some made public in March 2019 have been linked to study visas

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