A former Immigration New Zealand official who charged a couple $26,000 for visas never actually had the power to issue them.
Peter Meng Yam Lim has pleaded guilty to fraud charges relating to his time working as a border control officer.
Immigration New Zealand said Lim met the couple through people he knew in the community.
His offending came to light when they never got their visa and contacted Immigration New Zealand looking for a refund.
The department's chief executive, Nigel Bickle, said Lim was sacked and police and the Serious Fraud Office began investigating.
He said they found no evidence of other fraud by Lim but once was bad enough.
"Obviously New Zealand prides itself on the fact that it's number one in transparency internationally, and we have a corrupt-free Government and public sector.
"So [it's] very disappointing for me and the other 1500 people that work at immigration New Zealand."
Lim is due to be sentenced next month.