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Education agent charged for unlicensed immigration advice

A 47-year-old Auckland woman has appeared in the Auckland District Court today charged with unlawfully providing immigration advice and taking fees for the advice from seven Chinese nationals.

The Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA) has charged Hanfang (Helen) Liu, from Headsun International Group Ltd, under the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007 with four counts of asking for a fee for providing immigration advice while not being, and knowing she was required to be, licensed. She has also been charged on three counts of providing immigration advice while not being licensed, and knowing she was required to be licensed. The charges related to advice provided on student, visitor and work visa applications.

Ms Liu has been remanded on bail until 10 May.

Immigration Advisers Authority Registrar Catherine Albiston says, “Our message to international students seeking immigration advice in New Zealand is to check if the person is a Licensed Immigration Adviser or exempt, such as a New Zealand lawyer.”

Immigration Advisers must be licensed by the IAA, a New Zealand government body set up to protect individuals and families looking for immigration advice, or be an exempt person.

“Visa information is available on the Immigration New Zealand website(external link). If students need personalised immigration help, it is important to only seek it from people who can legally give New Zealand immigration advice,” adds Ms Albiston.

“Holding an immigration adviser licence means the individual has met competency standards and must be professional.” You can find a Licensed Immigration Adviser on the IAA’s register of licensed immigration advisers(external link).

The IAA investigates all complaints made by the public about unlicensed immigration advice. Individuals found breaking the law can face up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to NZD$100,000. “Anyone can talk to the IAA about their experience without their immigration status being affected,” adds Catherine.    


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