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Unlicensed immigration adviser sentenced to community detention

North Shore businessman Peter Woodberg has been sentenced to six months community detention, 12 months supervision and ordered to pay $5600 reparation to victims, following his guilty plea to three representative charges laid by the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA) for providing immigration advice to migrants without being licensed or exempt.

Mr Woodberg is the director of North Shore Immigration Services (NSIS), which has employed a number of licensed immigration advisers over the years, but he has never held a licence to provide immigration advice.

The charges related to advice on visitor and work visa applications. Between 2015 and 2017, Mr Woodberg travelled with his wife to South Africa to present seminars promoting New Zealand as a migrant destination. It was through these seminars that he met the victims.

Mr Woodberg’s victims were migrants hoping to live and work in New Zealand. He told the victims he had helped several people with their visas and he knew immigration processes and regulations. He told some of his victims to lie to border authorities by saying they were only travelling to New Zealand for a holiday, when in reality they were seeking work here.

The IAA is a government regulatory body with the purpose of promoting and protecting the interests of people receiving New Zealand immigration advice. It is compulsory for anyone, anywhere in the world, giving immigration advice about New Zealand to be licensed, unless they fall into one of the exempt categories outlined in the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007. Mr Woodberg never applied for an immigration adviser’s licence and was not exempt from being licensed.

Acting Registrar of Immigration Advisers, Simon Van Weeghel, says this type of knowingly repeated offending is serious and will not be tolerated.

“Mr Woodberg has employed a number of licensed immigration advisers over the years, and was previously warned of the obligation to be licensed under the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007. Despite this, he blatantly continued to give immigration advice knowing it was unlawful to do so.

“This is an example of someone who has taken advantage of vulnerable migrants particularly in the South African community, and emphasises the impact that unlicensed immigration advice can have on consumers, in addition to potential harm to New Zealand’s international reputation ” says Mr Van Weeghel.

“The IAA continues to raise awareness that this type of offending can cause significant stress and problems for visa applicants, and will not be tolerated.

“If people need help with an immigration matter they should only use a licensed immigration adviser, or an exempt person such as a lawyer with a New Zealand practising certificate”.

The IAA investigates complaints about unlicensed immigration advice, and individuals found breaking the law can face up to seven years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $100,000.

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

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