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Tribunal reprimands immigration adviser for negligence

Media release

18 September 2012

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 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.