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Bad Advice Wrecks Lives

Media release
8 September 2011

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Pacific Islanders are being urged to use licensed immigration advisers as part of a campaign cracking down on visa scams.

The Bad Advice Wrecks Lives campaign aims to warn Samoans, Tongans and Fijians with flyers ahead of Rugby World Cup 2011’s New Zealand v Tonga game on Friday.

Flyers will also be distributed before the Fiji play Samoa on 25 September.

“Overstayers are the most vulnerable,” says Immigration Advisers Authority Registrar Barry Smedts.

“Con artists cash in on their desperation to stay in the country. Once they’ve parted with their money they don’t know where to turn. In fact, they can turn to us.”

The Authority takes complaints about licensed advisers and investigates people giving immigration advice without a licence.

Recent reports to Immigration New Zealand involved Tongans being offered fake visas for $290 in South Auckland.

Mr Smedts assured all Pacific Islanders that the Authority can help victims whether they are overstayers or not.

“We’re only interested in bringing unlawful immigration advisers to justice.”

“I’d encourage anyone thinking of using an adviser to make sure they are licensed by checking our register. By using a licensed immigration adviser you are more likely to get your money back if you’re given bad advice.

“In the last month alone $45,000 has been clawed back for consumers.”

Licensed immigration advisers can be found in an online register or by contacting the Authority at info@iaa.govt.nz or on freephone 0508 422 422.

Those exempt from requiring a license include advisers at Citizen’s Advice Bureaus and lawyers.

Notes to editor

The Immigration Advisers Authority was set up to promote and protect the interests of people receiving New Zealand immigration advice.

We do this by:

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.