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Tribunal Reprimands Immigration Adviser for Negligence

Media release

18 September 2012

Tribunal Reprimands Immigration Adviser for Negligence

An immigration adviser was reprimanded for negligence after failing to lodge his client’s appeal against a declined residence visa in time.

Ueite (Itaotemai) Letalu, of Letalu Immigration Co Limited, Otahuhu, initially assisted his client to lodge an application for a residence visa, but this was declined. In August 2010 Immigration New Zealand informed Mr Letalu of the decline decision, and advised him that his client had 42 days to appeal this decision.

Mr Letalu missed the appeal deadline.

The Registrar of Immigration Advisers, Barry Smedts, said: “Mr Letalu missed a crucial deadline for his client. His actions meant a potential migrant lost out on their last chance to appeal against a decline decision on their residence visa by four days.”

The Immigration Advisers Authority usually takes complaints against immigration advisers from consumers but in this case, the Authority raised a complaint itself.

Mr Smedts added: “Anyone can raise a complaint about an immigration adviser, not just the person receiving the immigration advice. In the past, we have accepted complaints from people’s relatives, community law centres and other representatives.”

Mr Letalu accepted his mistake to the Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal, stating in his defence that “..it’s easy to get side-tracked on one’s very busy schedule.”

The Tribunal chair said: “Mr Letalu was negligent. It was a serious failing, but one that could potentially occur as a result of human frailty in a well-managed practice. [Mr Letalu] endeavoured to justify his error due to other commitments, which did not, and could not, justify the error.”

As Mr Letalu had allowed his licence to lapse during the course of the hearing, the Tribunal ordered that he be prevented from applying for a full licence for two years.

Anyone giving immigration advice must be licensed by the Immigration Advisers Authority, unless exempt. Find out who is licensed by checking the online register of licensed immigration advisers at www.iaa.govt.nz.

To make a complaint about an immigration adviser, contact the Authority at info@iaa.govt.nz, call free from New Zealand on 0508 422 422 or call +64 9 925 3838 from overseas.


Notes to editor

The Immigration Advisers Authority was set up in May 2008 to regulate immigration advice both nationally and internationally.

It is responsible for:

• overseeing the licensing of immigration advisers.

• receiving complaints about licensed and unlicensed immigration advisers.

• investigating and taking action against those breaching immigration advice law.

• maintaining a register of licensed immigration advisers.

Under the Immigration Licensing Act 2007 anyone giving immigration advice must have a licence unless they are an exempt person. Exempt people include lawyers and those working at Citizens’ Advice Bureaus among others.

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