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Immigration adviser ordered to pay compensation

Media release
18 August 2011

A licensed immigration adviser has had his licence cancelled and been ordered to pay compensation and a penalty totalling more than $20,000 by the Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal.

Barry Smedts, Registrar, Immigration Advisers Authority, says the Tribunal’s decision shows just how seriously it takes the professional obligations of licensed advisers.

“The Immigration Advisers Licensing Act was introduced to establish high professional standards for immigration advisers. It is extremely important that these standards are protected and the Tribunal’s decision does just that. It shows that the Act does have teeth and that the Tribunal is serious about protecting migrants and stamping out unprofessional behaviour,” says Mr Smedts.

In his decision, Tribunal Chairman, G D Pearson, ordered Nelson-based licensed adviser, Glen William Standing, to pay compensation of $19,459 after providing incorrect advice and then trying to justify this by falsely claiming that there had been a change in immigration policy. The adviser also breached the profession’s code of conduct by withholding a passport in lieu of payment.

Describing this as a “grave lapse from professional standards” the Chairman also cancelled the adviser’s licence for a minimum of two years and imposed a penalty of $2,000 in addition to the compensation order.
The adviser’s incorrect advice prevented his client from obtaining a work visa he was fully entitled to and resulted in 16 weeks of lost income and other avoidable costs.

Since setting up in October last year, the Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal has made decisions on 16 cases. Of these 16 cases, four have been dismissed; six are awaiting decisions and six have imposed penalties and sanctions on licensed immigration advisers.

Three of these involved “rubber stamping”. This occurs when a licensed adviser allows his name and licence to be used by an unlicensed person. In these cases the Tribunal determined that it was “the responsibility of the adviser to maintain the integrity of their licence.” Fines of around $3,000 were imposed and the advisers’ licences were cancelled for a minimum of two years. The other two cases involved the misrepresentation of academic qualifications and the mismanagement of client funds. The misrepresentation of academic qualifications resulted in cancellation of the adviser’s licence and a fine of $1,500. The mismanagement of funds in a censure and a fine of $1,500.

For details of Tribunal decisions, visit:
http://www.justice.govt.nz/tribunals/immigration-advisors-disciplinary-tribunal
Then, click on “Search decisions”

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.