Unlicensed immigration adviser pleads guilty to 10 charges
A Porirua man has pleaded guilty to all 10 charges laid against him by the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA) at the Porirua District Court this week. Charges were laid under the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007 following a thorough investigation into his unlicensed immigration advice activity.
The charges relate to Menefata Toso (also known as Limu M F Asiata) of Mene T Consulting Agency Ltd operating as an unlicensed immigration adviser within the Samoan community. Mr Toso has pleaded guilty to four charges of providing immigration advice without a licence; three charges of holding himself out as a licensed immigration adviser; and three charges of receiving fees for the provision of immigration advice.
Mr Toso was not present in court and in his absence guilty pleas were recorded for all charges, convictions were entered and a court date for sentencing set for 18 May 2016.
“The IAA was set up to promote and protect the interests of people receiving New Zealand immigration advice," Registrar of the IAA, Catherine Albiston says.
“Unfortunately, there are people who operate unlawfully and are unlicensed. That’s why it’s very important that anyone seeking New Zealand immigration advice only use a licensed adviser or an exempt person.
“Licensed immigration advisers are immigration specialists; they must meet competency standards and follow a code of conduct. A free public register of all licensed advisers can be found on the iaa.govt.nz website.”
The public can have confidence that the IAA takes unlicensed activity very seriously and will prosecute unlicensed advisers found to be operating outside the law, as is the case today.
"We encourage anyone who has received immigration advice from someone who is not licensed or exempt to come forward and speak to us," says Ms Albiston.
“The IAA is separate to Immigration New Zealand and contacting the IAA will not affect anyone's visa status.”
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