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NZ: agent convicted for unlawful advice

The director of Auckland-based agency Headsun International Group has pleaded guilty to four counts of providing unlawful immigration advice and been sentenced to nine-months home detention.

Headsun's website is still accessible onlineHeadsun's website is still accessible at the time of publication. Photo: Headsun

Agents must hold a licence or an exemption from IAA

“This is a serious example of an education agent knowingly providing unlawful advice”

Hanfang Liu, who goes by Helen, was charged by New Zealand Immigration Advisers Authority with providing immigration advice for a fee while unlicensed, despite being aware that she was required to hold a license to do so.

“This is a serious example of an education agent knowingly providing unlawful advice and taking advantage of their client base; potentially putting them at risk and depriving them of the opportunity to live and study in New Zealand,” said IAA registrar Andrew Galloway.

“The IAA takes this type of offence very seriously and we will continue to actively investigate and prosecute offenders like Ms Liu.”

IAA, which oversees and enforces New Zealand’s immigration advice legislation, charged Liu in February 2018 for offences against seven Chinese nationals relating to student, visitor, and work visa applications. She pleaded guilty to the charges in September and received her sentence on November 19.

To provide immigration advice in New Zealand, individuals must either hold a license or an exemption. The penalty is a maximum sentence of seven years in prison and a NZ$100,000 fine.

New Zealand currently recruits around a third of its international students through agents, according to estimates, and Galloway urged those seeking the assistance with their visa check IAA’s register to ensure they were licensed or exempt.

This year has seen several highly reported cases of alleged fraudulent behaviour by agents, including concerns of double dipping in Tanzania and the arrest of an agent in Australia relating to complaints of irregularities of health insurance and tuition fee payments.

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