Unlicensed immigration adviser pleads guilty
An Auckland man has pleaded guilty to five charges laid by the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA), four representative counts of providing immigration advice without being licensed or exempt, and one representative charge of asking for or receiving a fee.
Timothy Joseph Spooner appeared in the Papakura District Court on 24 May 2019 for charges related to advice provided on student, visitor, work, and residence visa applications as well as an appeal to the Immigration & Protection Tribunal.
“This is an example of someone who has been failing to meet the requirements of the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007 (the Act), despite repeated reminders, a formal interview, caution and warning and plenty of advice from the IAA over a long period of time,” says the Registrar of Immigration Advisers, Andrew Galloway.
“The IAA will hold people to account where they continue to flagrantly flaunt the requirements of the Act. At the heart of our cases is the protection of migrants who often come to harm where unlicensed advice is given. This also has a flow on effect to the reputation of New Zealand as a migrant destination.
“Through our work, 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 serious jeopardy.
“If people need help with a visa application, they should only use a licensed immigration adviser or exempt person,” says Mr Galloway.
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
The IAA investigates 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 Mr Galloway.
Mr Spooner will appear for sentencing at the Manukau District Court in August.
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