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Woman pleads guilty to three charges of unlawful immigration advice

An Auckland woman has pleaded guilty to three charges laid by the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA) of unlawfully asking for a fee for immigration advice, and taking payment, from four of her family members and friends in the Tongan community.

Lealeifuaneva Linda Moala appeared in the Manukau District Court yesterday and has been remanded on bail to reappear before court on 28 June 2018.

The Registrar of Immigration Advisers, Catherine Albiston, says “The facts in this case are another example of someone taking advantage of Tongan and Pacific people who are in a tough spot. We’ll continue to actively investigate and prosecute offenders like Ms Moala.”

Ms Moala pleaded guilty to two charges under the Immigration Advisers Licencing Act 2007. She asked for a fee for the provision of immigration advice knowing she was neither licensed nor exempt. She also pleaded guilty to one charge under the Crimes Act 1961 of obtaining a payment by deception. She led the victims to believe she was an Immigration Officer, when she was not.

“The IAA hope that cases like this will raise awareness amongst Pacific communities in New Zealand, as well as in Tonga, Samoa and Fiji, that it is not acceptable to provide unlawful immigration advice.

“If people need help with a visa application, they should only use a licensed immigration adviser or exempt person such as a current New Zealand lawyer,” says Ms Albiston.

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.

ENDS

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

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