More than 60 employers are being investigated by Immigration New Zealand for alleged immigration fraud, it has been revealed today.
The figure emerged when Labour's immigration spokesman Iain Lees-Galloway asked Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse how many employers were being investigated, or were marked for investigation for potential immigration fraud.
Woodhouse replied that he had been told Immigration New Zealand was investigating 64 employers.
"There are also nine employers being prosecuted by INZ who are currently before the courts."
Lees-Galloway also asked Woodhouse to break down the businesses under investigation by industry, but that was turned down.
To do so would take staff too long and he was "not prepared to commit the resources required to respond", Woodhouse said.
The Herald revealed today emails from Immigration NZ staff in India, obtained by the Labour Party under the Official Information Act, expressed concern about an "exploitation/facilitation triangle" in which Indian education agents, NZ educational institutions and Kiwi employers were all making money from Indian students.
Some students had threatened self-harm and were sleeping in cars because they did not earn enough to buy food.
Immigration NZ visa services manager Jock Gilray told the Herald cases of students threatening self-harm and sleeping in cars still "happen on occasion but is not believed to be widespread".
But he said the "exploitation/facilitation triangle" had been "significantly diminished" after the agency detected widespread fraud in student applications from India last year, leading to tighter auditing of education agents, NZ schools and employers.
Labour has been shining a spotlight on immigration, this week announcing a plan which is expected to cut net migration by 20,000 to 30,000 a year.
Their proposed immigration overhaul targeted low-skilled workers and students it considered were exploiting a "back door to Godzone".
Leader Andrew Little announced the policy after criticising the National Government for record high net migration, which has seen more than 70,000 people a year settle in New Zealand than are leaving each year.
The main target of Labour's policy will be those in low-skilled positions which Labour believes could be done by New Zealanders who were not in work and migrants trying to settle in Auckland rather than the regions.