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A Christchurch woman, whose company provided immigration advice to migrants without being licensed, has been convicted and sentenced to six months community detention and ordered to repay $74,703.
Jing (Lydia) Zeng was sentenced at the Christchurch District Court on charges relating to providing immigration advice without being licensed or exempt, and for asking for or receiving a fee, which are both legal requirements under the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007.
Zeng was sentenced to six months community detention, commencing immediately, and was ordered to repay $74,703 for providing advice in relation to entrepreneur and investment visas for New Zealand.
The two charges were laid by the Immigration Advisers Authority.
Zeng was the sole director of INZ Education and Tourism Ltd. In that role, she assisted with tertiary education placements and visa applications for her clients. However, Zeng has never held a license to provide immigration advice about New Zealand.
Zeng had previously been warned by the IAA in relation to the requirements of the Act. But in spite of repeated reminders and advice from the IAA over a long period of time, she failed to meet the requirements of the Act.
"This is an important reminder for people looking to come to New Zealand to always use a licensed immigration adviser," said Registrar of Immigration Advisers, Duncan Connor.
"Licensed immigration advisers are required to be competent in their practice and are required to follow a professional code of conduct relating to the advice they provide.
"The IAA will continue to raise awareness that unlawful immigration advice can cause significant stress and problems for visa applicants, not to mention putting them out of pocket or putting their dreams of moving to New Zealand in jeopardy.
"If people need help with their immigration matters, they should only use a licensed immigration adviser or exempt person."
The IAA investigates complaints made about unlicensed immigration advice. Individuals found breaking the law can face up to seven years in prison and/or a fine of up to $100,000.
The IAA has an online register of licensed advisers for people who want to search for a licensed immigration adviser.