Immigration Authorities of New Zealand will be taking legal actions against third-party websites which have been ripping off travelers to New Zealand by offering them ‘NZeTA visa’ or ‘assistance’ to apply, and charging travelers multiple times more than the actual price of an electronic travel authorization for the island country.
Non-official eTA websites started popping all over the internet, only a few weeks after the New Zealand government announced it would launch an electronic system to grant e-visas to nationals of regular visa-free countries.
Many of these websites, though not directly, claim they are the official eTA website, by copying the look of the actual official website. Others claim they offer “expert” application assistance, when in fact all they do is pass on the information the applicant gives in their website, to the official eTA website, as the application procedure is so simple everyone can complete it on their own.
While the government set a price of NZD $9.00 for mobile application requests and NZD $12.00 for web browser requests, non-official websites offering such “services” charge applicants with fees several times higher, up to NZD $150.
According to INZ general manager, Stephen Dunstan, the department is currently working with Google on other possibilities, including trademarking the NZeTA brand in a number of jurisdictions in an attempt to prevent its “unauthorized and misleading use”.
“Some third-party sites are asking the right questions and collecting the correct information required for an NZeTA request… However, there are some sites that are not asking for sufficient information to be able to make a complete request on behalf of their customers. These are generally the sites that are acting unlawfully,” Dunstan explains.
Whereas Google has already taken down several adds which were clearly in breach of their own rules.
“We have strict policies that govern the kinds of ads we allow on our platform, and ads that intend to mislead or deceive users are a violation of those policies…When we find ads that violate our policies, we remove them,” one of Google’s spokespersons told to the media.
The NZeTA has been announced for about a year and a half now, as a means of security and facilitation measure. The country expedited the procedures to launch the scheme in the aftermath of a deadly terrorist attack that killed 50 people in Christchurch, New Zealand.
The scheme is similar to the ones other countries operate as the US Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) and the Canadian Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA). The European Union has also announced a similar scheme to come into force by January 2021, which will be called the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS).
Nationals of 60 world countries, which so far have been exempt from the New Zealand entry visa requirement, will now have to apply for and obtain an eTA in advance of their trip to the island country.
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