Police in Christchurch have arrested five Chinese nationals in an operation targeting a passport and visa fraud ring.
The five men were arrested on Wednesday and brought before the Christchurch District Court on Thursday. All are Chinese nationals living in Christchurch.
It is alleged that between 2007 and 2010, 17 fraudulent Australian visa applications were made by the two principal offenders.
Police have been working on the operation for over a year, after questions were first raised by the Australian High Commission.
Detective Sergeant Stuart McGowan says Chinese nationals legally obtained passports and visas via New Zealand to travel to Australia, and those documents were then reused by up to 17 more Chinese nationals to enter Australia.
Those arrested face a range of charges including immigration fraud, dishonestly using a document and making a false statement, and charges relating to people-smuggling.