29 October 2012

New Zealand immigration authorities continue crackdown

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A Queenstown judge has expressed his disappointment that he does not have the New Zealand immigration authority to deport two drunked French tourists.

New Zealand visa

New Zealnd immigration officials are taking steps to combat fraudulent immigration advisers.

Romys Immigration Services in the Hillsborough region of Auckland has been ordered to pay almost NZ$6,000 in fines and refunds after allowing a family to remain in the country, unaware that their New Zealand visa application had been rejected.

Prem Singh filed an initial New Zealand visa application on behalf of the family which was rejected. Instead of informing the family on their immigration status in the country, Mr Singh told them their application had been referred to the Ombudsman for review.

After failing to get back in touch with Mr Singh, his client contacted Immigration New Zealand (INZ) herself, only to discover the truth about her family's application and to be informed they were in the country illegally.

"This was not an isolated lapse; in the course of his instructions Mr Singh consistently failed to act professionally," found the tribunal.

New Zealand officials have made concerted efforts in recent weeks and months to combat immigration scams and Romys Immigration Services was joined by fellow fraudulent immigration adviser Barbara Parker, also known as Barbara Nassiep, in being fined by the tribunal.

Ms Parker allegedly continued to charge clients for immigration advice despite knowing her licence had expired, she also failed to sign written agreements regarding the fees she charged.

"This was not simply an issue of lack of care; she held funds she had no entitlement to, did not bank them properly and then left the country," said the tribunal.

"Ms [Parker's] lack of remorse, insight, or even willingness to engage with what is clearly a serious complaint, is significant."

Ms Parker awes fined over NZ$11,000. Both Ms Parker and Mr Singh were barred from applying for a renewed licence for two years.

Jenny Espiner, visa processing manager at the New Zealand Visa Bureau, says the recent spate in cases shows the government's intention to combat abuse but also the need to ensure your adviser is certified.

"The government might be taking steps to ensure fewer people fall victim to such scams," said Ms Espiner.

"But in the meantime, people considering moving to New Zealand need to remain vigilant and ensure any advisers they are hiring are registered with the Immigration Advisers Authority and have positive reviews on sites such as MigrationAgentReviews."

The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy that specialises in helping people apply for a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa.

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