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Former licensed Immigration Adviser convicted, puts visa applicant at risk

Former Auckland based licensed immigration adviser, Gregory Francisco Smith, who continued to provide immigration advice without a licence, was convicted and sentenced last week at the Manukau District Court.

Judge Yelena Yelavich, declined Smith’s application for discharge without conviction, ordered two months community detention, 100 hours of community work and repayment of $4,400 to the complainant. She found the consequences of conviction were not out of proportion to the gravity of the offending.

Based on a complaint, the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA) started legal proceedings against Mr Smith, who had lost his Immigration Adviser’s Licence in 2015, but continued to provide immigration advice and make false promises of lodging visa applications with Immigration New Zealand. “Mr Smith, who took advantage of knowledge he had, being a licensed immigration adviser in the past, continued to provide advice knowing fully well he wasn’t entitled to do so” said Duncan Connor, Registrar of Immigration Advisers.

The complainant requested Mr Smith’s assistance with his New Zealand residence application and paid him $4,400. Mr Smith repeatedly confirmed to the complainant that he had duly submitted the application with Immigration New Zealand and later assured the complainant that an interim visa was on the way to help the complainant stay and work in New Zealand.

Later, the complainant found out from Immigration New Zealand that Mr Smith never submitted any application and the complainant’s stay in New Zealand became unlawful.  “Mr Smith’s actions led to the victim’s stay becoming unlawful, causing significant financial loss and severe stress to the victim and his family,” said Mr Connor. Smith continued to interact with the victim at the time he was being warned by the IAA regarding provision of immigration advice without a licence on another matter in 2019.

In 2015, Mr Smith’s application to renew his licence was refused by the Registrar of Immigration Advisers after four complaints against him were upheld by the Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal. These complaints related to serious breaches of the Licensed Immigration Advisers Code of Conduct 2014.

“The Immigration Advisers Authority will continue to hold people to account if they breach the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007, while also focussing on protecting migrants who come to harm as a result of unlicensed advice,” highlights Mr Connor.

The Immigration Adviser Authority’s (IAA) online register of licensed advisers is available for those who want to search for a licensed immigration adviser. More information on the IAA can be found on the website. The IAA investigates complaints made by the public about individuals who provide immigration advice without a licence. Individuals found breaking the law can face up to 7 years in prison and a fine of up to NZD$100,000.

Immigration Advisers Authority