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Migrants warned to avoid unlicensed immigration advisers

24 December 2013

Migrants warned to avoid unlicensed immigration advisers

Unlicensed immigration advisers have similar methods when dealing with migrants, warned the Immigration Advisers Authority.

The Registrar of Immigration Advisers, Barry Smedts, said the Authority had investigated several such advisers in 2013.

Some operated from home like Mt Roskill-based Khadijah Lolohea (also known as Khadijah Piu) who offended against 13 mainly Tongan migrants. Others operated from rented office space like Tengyu (Nick) Yuan who obtained more than $100,000 from migrants after advertising his services in a Chinese newspaper.

Ashneel Nand and Sunita Devi face 42 charges and eight charges respectively after receiving more than $50,000 from migrants.

Mr Smedts said: “What we have learned is that those operating unlawfully tend to use similar methods. They may ask you to sign a blank visa application form or tell you they are on close terms with Immigration New Zealand workers. Whatever you are told, it pays to follow our five tips when choosing an immigration adviser.”

The Authority’s five tips when choosing an immigration adviser

1. Choose someone who is licensed by the Authority or exempt.
Licensed advisers are listed on the Authority’s online register at www.iaa.govt.nz. Exempt people include New Zealand lawyers who can be found at www.nzls.org.nz.

2. Stay away from anyone who encourages you to lie on your visa application form.
Lying to Immigration New Zealand (INZ) is a criminal offence and dishonesty may affect your future visas or jobs.

3. Avoid anyone who refuses to put their name on your visa application.
Your visa application form has a section at the end that must be completed and signed by any person who has assisted you. Genuine immigration professionals will always complete this part of the form. People acting unlawfully will avoid including their name because Immigration New Zealand will not accept applications from unlicensed individuals.

4. Do not sign a visa application form before it has been filled out.
You should never sign a document you don’t understand.

5. Be wary of anyone who claims they have personal contacts at INZ.
Bogus immigration consultants often make false claims that they work with personal contacts at INZ.

Mr Smedts warned, even those who mean well such as pastors, teachers or community leaders, frequently put individuals at risk and damage migrants’ chances of legitimately gaining a visa.

He said: “Having good intentions is not the same as giving good immigration advice.”

The Immigration Advisers Authority is a government regulator set up to protect people receiving immigration advice. The Authority forms part of Consumer Protection and Standards within the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Unlicensed advisers before the courts in 2013

Richard Martin of Richard Martin Immigration Limited North Shorethree charges of providing immigration advice when neither licensed nor exempt
one charge of receiving a fee or reward for providing immigration advice when neither licensed nor exempt
Charges before the Court
Khadijah Lolohea (Khadijah Piu)nine charges of providing immigration advice without a licence following a widespread immigration scam in the Tongan communityconvicted
Tengyu Yuan (Nick Yuan) of Noahark Consultant Limitedsix charges of providing immigration advice without a licence and one charge of holding out as an immigration adviser after amassing more than $100,000 from six migrantsconvicted
Hakaoro Hakaoro of Hakaoro Immigration Consultancysix charges of providing immigration advice without a licence and one charge of holding himself out as an immigration adviserCharges before the Court
Ashneel Nand of Universal Immigration Services (NZ)42 charges including holding himself out as a licensed immigration adviser knowing he was not licensed, asking for or receiving a fee
for the provision of immigration advice, and providing immigration advice without a licence.
Charges before the Court
Sunita Devi of Universal Immigration Services (NZ)Eight charges including providing immigration advice without a licence and asking for or receiving a fee for the provision of immigration advice.Charges before the Court

The Immigration Advisers Authority was set up to protect people receiving New Zealand immigration advice.
It does this by:
• issuing licences to people who are fit and competent to give immigration advice
• maintaining competency standards and a code of conduct for immigration advisers
• receiving complaints against licensed immigration advisers
• investigating people giving immigration advice without a licence or exemption.

Under the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007 anyone giving immigration advice must have a licence unless they are exempt. Exempt people include lawyers with a current New Zealand practising certificate and Citizens Advice Bureaux staff among others.

The Authority is independent of Immigration New Zealand and cannot give immigration advice or influence a visa application. Watch a video about us to find out more.

ENDS

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