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Unlicensed immigration adviser prosecuted for multiple offences

A 65-year old Auckland man has been charged by the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA) with multiple counts of giving immigration advice without being licensed or exempt, holding out to be a licensed immigration adviser, and unlawfully taking payment.

Timothy Joseph Spooner appeared in the Manukau District Court yesterday.

He has been charged with five counts of providing immigration advice without being licensed or exempt knowing he was required to be licensed or exempt; three charges of holding himself out as a licensed immigration adviser knowing he does not hold a licence nor is exempt; and four charges of asking for or receiving a fee for the provision of immigration advice knowing that he was neither licensed nor exempt.

The charges relate to advice provided on student, visitor, work and residence visa applications as well as advising one of his victims to appeal to the Immigration & Protection Tribunal.

He has been remanded on bail to reappear before the court on 18 April 2017.

The Registrar of Immigration Advisers, Catherine Albiston, says “This is an example of someone who is alleged to have been taking advantage of vulnerable migrants, particularly, in the Thai community. The IAA continues to raise awareness that unlawful immigration advice can cause significant stress and problems for visa applicants.

“If people need help with a visa application, they should only use a licensed immigration adviser or exempt person,” says Catherine.

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 looks into 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 Ms Albiston.


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