Unlicensed woman charged with asking for fee for immigration advice
A 31-year-old Auckland woman appeared today in the Manukau District Court charged with unlawfully asking for a fee for immigration advice and taking payment from four family members and friends in the Tongan community.
Lealeifuaneva Linda Moala, has been charged by the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA) with two charges under the Immigration Advisers Licencing Act 2007. The IAA alleges Ms Moala, not being licensed nor exempt from the requirement to be licensed, asked for a fee for the provision of immigration advice knowing she was neither licensed nor exempt. Ms Moala also faces one charge under the Crimes Act 1961 of obtaining a payment by deception.
She has been remanded on bail to reappear before court in March.
The Registrar of Immigration Advisers, Catherine Albiston, says “The facts alleged by the IAA are another example of someone taking advantage of Tongan and Pacific people who are in a tough spot.
“The IAA continues to raise awareness amongst Pacific communities in New Zealand, as well as in Tonga, Samoa and Fiji, 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 investigates 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