A Fijian woman has been sentenced for using a visa obtained fraudulently after her husband got New Zealand citizenship by changing his identity and making up a story that his family was massacred in Bangladesh.

Aneela Wati was sentenced to nine months' home detention and 120 hours' community work at the Tauranga District Court today after being charged for knowingly producing a visa that had been obtained fraudulently.

Wati's husband, Satya Nand, was sentenced in February to 29 months' imprisonment after pleading guilty to using false documentation to obtain a benefit.

Nand managed to obtain New Zealand residence then citizenship by creating a new identity and making up a story that he arrived in New Zealand as a stowaway after his entire family was killed.

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He obtained identity documents in his false name and used documentation to obtain benefits for himself, his wife and their children.

"He claimed he was born in India and went to Bangladesh when he was a year old and that his family were killed when he was 18 years old," Immigration New Zealand (INZ) assistant general manager Peter Devoy said.

Nand claimed he had been persecuted, beaten up and stabbed at the refugee camp in Bangladesh so he stowed away on a ship to Hong Kong and eventually New Zealand.

"He was ultimately caught as a result of painstaking investigative work by our compliance officers who managed to locate him under his true Fijian identity and then uncovered his fraud and false identity," Devoy said.

Once Nand had obtained residence and citizenship, Wati obtained a residence visa for her and three of their children by remarrying Nand and pretending she didn't know him previously.

In 2004, when Wati arrived at Auckland International Airport, she presented her resident visa to gain entry despite knowing the document, and her children's visas, had been obtained fraudulently.

Devoy said the fraudulent behaviour would not be tolerated.

"The family had an elaborate story about Nand's fabricated refugee past and his dream of living in New Zealand. These actions were despicable, especially considering the suffering many genuine refugees experience.

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"As with all visa applications, the responsibility is on the applicant to ensure they provide genuine and accurate information as part of their visa application. The officers involved in this case worked diligently to identify the fraud that led to this case coming to court," Devoy said.