21 April 2011

Pastor charged for acting as unlicensed New Zealand immigration agent

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Kauapi Lutelu Salanoa, a pastor at a church in the Auckland suburb of Avondale, has been charged on six counts of giving New Zealand immigration advice without a licence.

New Zealand immigration

A pastor at a church in Avondale, has been charged for giving New Zealand immigration advice without a licence.

Lutelu has pleaded guilty in the Auckland District Court to six charges of giving immigration advice without a licence, with the offences taking place between September, 2009 and September, 2010.

Outside court, Lutelu has admitted to "helping" more than 200 people with their New Zealand visa applications since 2001, the majority of whom were overstayers from Samoa who were also members of his church.

One individual has claimed that Lutelu asked for a "donation" of NZ$200 in exchange for his services, though Lutelu denies charging any fee, saying that many offered "cash donations" which were used to pay the clerk.

Speaking on the matter, Lutelu defend himself, saying "As their spiritual leader, I feel it is my responsibility to help them when they are facing a problem."

He continued: "I am not a criminal, and would not be seen as one by the previous Government. I have been turned into a criminal only because of legislation changes made by this Government."

Since May, 2010, anyone providing New Zealand immigration advice is required by law to be licensed with the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA) under the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act.

The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with individuals applying for New Zealand immigration.

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