Company director sentenced to community detention and ordered to pay $74,703 for immigration advice provided without license
A Christchurch woman, whose company provided immigration advice to migrants, has been convicted and sentenced to six months community detention and ordered to repay a total of $74,703, following two charges laid by the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA).
Jing (Lydia) Zeng appeared in Christchurch District Court for sentencing on charges relating to providing immigration advice without being licensed or exempt, and for asking for or receiving a fee, which are both legal requirements under the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007 (the Act).
Ms Zeng was sentenced to six months community detention, commencing immediately, and was ordered to repay $74,703 for providing advice in relation to entrepreneur and investment visas for New Zealand.
Zeng was the sole Director of INZ Education and Tourism Ltd (INZET) and in that role assisted with tertiary education placements and visa applications for her clients. However, Zeng has never held a license to provide immigration advice about New Zealand.
Zeng had previously been warned by the IAA in relation to the requirements of the Act, and despite repeated reminders and advice from the IAA over a long period of time, she failed to meet the requirements of the Act.
“This is an important reminder for people looking to immigrate to New Zealand to always use a licensed immigration adviser”, says Registrar of Immigration Advisers, Duncan Connor.
“Licensed immigration advisers are required to be competent in their practice and are required to a follow a professional code of conduct relating to the advice they provide.
“The IAA will continue to raise awareness that unlawful immigration advice can cause significant stress and problems for visa applicants, not to mention putting them out of pocket or putting their dreams of moving to New Zealand in jeopardy.
“If people need help with their immigration matters, they should only use a licensed immigration adviser or exempt person.”
The IAA investigates complaints made about unlicensed immigration advice. Individuals found breaking the law can face up to seven years in prison and/or a fine of up to $100,000.
The IAA’s online register of licensed advisers(external link) is available for those who want to search for a licensed immigration adviser. More information on the IAA can be found at www.iaa.govt.nz(external link).
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:
- issuing licences to people who are fit and competent to give immigration advice
- maintaining competency standards and a code of conduct for immigration advisers
- investigating people giving immigration advice without a licence or exemption
- receiving complaints from people who have received poor immigration advice.
Under the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007(external link) 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