Immigration New Zealand has issued a warning about unlicensed immigration agents being active in China.

Jeannie Melville, INZ assistant general manager, said the notice in English and Chinese script was posted on the agency's website because "it's about to enter the peak-processing period" for visa applications from Chinese residents.

The Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA) says it has been investigating complaints relating to advisers targeting the Chinese.

"INZ is aware that unlicensed advisers are operating in China, as well as in other markets, and it wants to make sure visa applicants from China, who want to travel to New Zealand, are helped and protected," Melville said.

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"There can be serious consequences for applicants who are misled or cheated by unlicensed or undeclared immigration advisers. INZ wants to help applicants avoid such circumstances."

The agency said it was aware of cases where Chinese applicants had been cheated by unlicensed and undeclared agents.

"Applications involving 'hidden' agents include a false declaration and often contain fraudulent documents," it said.

"We will decline those applications."

IAA registrar Andrew Galloway said the authority did not specifically record the ethnicity of immigration advisers when a complaint is received, but confirmed it had investigated complaints in the past 12 months relating to advisers targeting the Chinese community.

"The IAA cannot comment on matters currently under investigation or before court," Galloway said.

Applicants are warned that it is their responsibility to declare if someone who is not a licensed immigration adviser has assisted them with their application.

"Anyone who is not a licensed immigration adviser or exempt from licensing cannot provide immigration advice," the notice said.

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It asked applicants to "be honest in your visa applications".

"Your application will not be approved if we find it contains false or misleading information and that will affect any future application you may make for a New Zealand visa."

This is the New Zealand-China Year of Tourism, which is aimed at promoting travel between the two countries.

But Statistics New Zealand figures show the number of arrivals from China has dropped by more than 3 per cent.

In June, the number of Chinese visitors fell 3.1 per cent to 18,334.