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Justice for migrant duped by immigration consultancy

Media release
27 October 2011

A migrant conned out of his life savings by an immigration consultancy was refunded after his niece complained to the Immigration Advisers Authority.

Na Jia explained her uncle approached Sea Consultants and Investments Limited for help applying for a work visa so he could work as a chef in New Zealand and support his daughter through university.

Proprietor Jenny Fan negotiated fees of $20,000 – four times Sea Consultant’s usual charge of $5,000 and seventeen times the industry median of $1,150.

At the Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal, it was found the inflated fee was likely to be either an attempt to overcharge a naïve person or for inducing an employer to provide a job.

Sea Consultants provided a fake contract to the chef and forged the signature of the firm’s only licensed immigration adviser on the visa application.

Wei Wang, a junior in the profession, remained unaware her identity was being hijacked but was struck off by the tribunal for failure to:

The tribunal stated:

“Ms Wang’s failure was the result of being hopelessly out of her depth.

“The most concerning aspect of Ms Wang’s conduct was her failure to intervene when she knew the Uncle had been grossly overcharged. However, I am satisfied Ms Wang was influenced and manipulated by persons she regarded as senior and to be respected, and actively deceived.”

The tribunal ordered Ms Wang to pay a penalty of $2,000 and prevented her from reapplying for a full immigration adviser’s licence for two years.

Immigration Advisers Authority Registrar Barry Smedts says this was an excellent example of why migrants should complain if they feel they have been misled and check the Authority’s website for average fees charged by immigration consultants.

He said: “This case saw a man’s life savings being restored to him after complaining to us.

“Migrants who have been mistreated have a clear choice: they can fill out a simple four-page complaints form  and have a chance of getting their money back or they can remain silent and bear the loss.

“If you’re unsure about your situation, give us a call on freephone 0508 422 422.”

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.