27 Jul 2012

Tongan lawyers call for greater protection for New Zealand overstayers

6:15 am on 27 July 2012

Immigration lawyers in New Zealand say overstayers need stronger protection to encourage them to report visa scams.

The call comes ahead of a public meeting in Auckland tomorrow over a bogus visa scheme thought to have fleeced hundreds of Tongan overstayers.

The police, the Immigration Advisors Authority and Immigration New Zealand will be at the meeting, and victims of the visa scam are being encouraged to attend to lay complaints.

A lawyer, Amelia Schaaf, says many of them haven't done so because they're afraid of being picked up by the police and deported.

She says one of the aims of the meeting is to push for more formal protection for those who report immigration fraud.

Immigration New Zealand says overstayers can attend the meeting without fear of repercussions but it is not offering an amnesty.