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One-third of arrivals denied entry into NZ hold Indian passports, while S’pore issued work passes to Indian nationals with fraudulent degrees

New Zealand media reported on Saturday (17 Jun) that almost a third of arrivals who were denied entry into New Zealand since the country opened its borders last year, were Indian nationals.

New Zealand opened its borders on 1 August last year. Till 10 June last week, almost a third of the foreign nationals denied entry into New Zealand on arrival was found to hold Indian passports.

This includes both visa holders and passengers who were travelling visa waiver on a New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) told the media in a statement.

INZ also noted 2727 passengers had been denied boarding while attempting to travel to New Zealand between those same dates, and 796 (29 per cent) of these were Indian nationals.

INZ said possessing a visa does not guarantee entry into New Zealand. Asked why so many Indian passport holders had been turned away at the border, INZ declined to comment specifically.

“There are a number of reasons why a person may be denied entry to New Zealand,” INZ said.

“However, the main reasons why people are refused entry include not being considered to be genuine temporary entrants and are likely to breach the conditions of their visa or fail to meet character requirements for entering New Zealand.”

“The decision to refuse anyone entry to New Zealand, regardless of nationality, is not one that our border staff makes lightly. It is the result of an assessment by INZ that someone presenting at the border may not be a genuine short-stay visitor.”

It should be noted that NZ allows one to look for work or attend a job interview in New Zealand on a visitor’s visa. The individual will, however, need to apply for a work visa before you can start work.

Indians make up 5 per cent of the New Zealand population. According to a report by India’s Ministry of External Affairs , there are 240,000 Indians residing in New Zealand, out of which there are 160,000 people of Indian origin and 80,000 Non-Resident Indians.

Singapore grants work passes to Indian nationals with fake degrees

While we do not know the exact reasons why NZ denied the entries of the Indian nationals, it does, however, appear that the screening process by the immigration authority in Singapore is much lax.

On 16 February 2021, quoting from Times of India, TOC reported that the Indian police had uncovered a case of an Indian university selling tens of thousands of fake degrees to multitudes of people.

It was reported that Manav Bharti University in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh had sold 36,000 fake degrees across 17 states in over 11 years. The university is run by the Manav Bharti Charitable Trust.

It was further reported that the trust chairman Raj Kumar Rana and his family had already absconded to Australia. The Indian authorities estimated that Rana and his family had amassed property worth Rs387 crore (S$70 million) from the proceeds of the racket.

The 36,000 fake degrees issued by Manav Bharti University was said to be only the tip of an iceberg, as the number of fake degrees issued is known to be many more.

After the news was first reported by the Times of India, TOC did a cursory check on LinkedIn and found that there were already a number of graduates from Manav Bharti University working in Singapore.

That meant the Manpower Ministry (MOM) had already issued work passes for these Manav Bharti University graduates allowing them to work in Singapore.

The next day (17 February 2021), following the TOC news report, MOM immediately announced that it was investigating some work pass holders who had declared their qualifications from Manav Bharti University.

“If found to have falsely declared their educational qualifications, their work passes will be immediately revoked and they will be permanently barred from employment in Singapore,” said MOM in a statement.

MOM said that the employers have the primary responsibility to ensure the “authenticity and quality” of the academic qualifications of the foreigners they wish to hire.

MOM took 6 years to discover fake degrees

In July 2021, MOM finally charged 2 Indian nationals who paid S$330 and S$730 respectively for their fake degrees from Manav Bharti University.

They were convicted and jailed for submitting false educational qualifications in their work pass applications to MOM.

In one case, Mr Sutradhar Bijoy submitted his fake degree to MOM in his S Pass application in 2015 to work as an assistant warehouse manager at Lye M S Trading. He made a false declaration again the second time while renewing his S Pass application in 2020 so that he could continue to work as assistant warehouse manager.

With regard to the fake degree scandal, a MOM spokesperson said that “it is difficult to detect institutions such as Manav Bharti University, which are approved by the foreign government’s authorities and issuing genuine degrees while selling fakes”.

MOM reiterated that employers have the “primary responsibility to ensure the authenticity and quality of the academic qualifications of the candidates they wish to hire”.

In any case, MOM took some 6 years before discovering Bijoy’s fake degree, which was submitted way back in 2015 in his S Pass application.
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