Immigration adviser ordered to pay

22:04, Nov 08 2012

An unlicensed immigration adviser has been ordered to refund more more than $5000 he raised running an unlawful immigration business.

Kauapi Lutelu, also known as Prince Pastor Kauapi Lutelu Salanoa, of Mangere pleaded guilty to six charges at Auckland District Court in September.

They included two charges of providing immigration advice without a licence, two of holding out as a licensed immigration adviser, one representative charge of holding out as an immigration adviser and one representative charge of asking for a fee for the provision of immigration advice. 

Judge Christopher Field said a jail term would ordinarily be the appropriate starting point for offending of that type. But because of  Lutelu's personal circumstances and severe mental illness, he sentenced  him to 14 days community detention and ordered him to give refunds to four victims.

In January 2010 a Pacific radio station announcement said Mr Lutelu had been given a ''quota'' from the Minister of Immigration for 250 Fiji nationals who required work permits or permanent residency.

The announcement said an application for the quota would only be considered if accompanied by a $50 cover charge.

The next month, Mr Lutelu wrote to those who registered for the quota, stating he would charge $1000 for a work permit and $2000 for permanent residence.

In May 2010, a visa application filed by Mr Lutelu was returned because Immigration New Zealand does not accept applications from unlicensed advisers.

Mr Lutelu applied for a licence six times but was declined by the Immigration Advisers Authority and repeatedly warned not to provide immigration advice.

Immigration Advisers Registrar Barry Smedts says people can avoid falling foul of people like Lutelu.

''Before handing over any money, check the online public Register of Licensed Immigration Advisers and read our immigration advice consumer guide.

''If you don't have internet access, call us and we will check the register for you and post you a copy of the guide. This will tell you where to go for advice and how to report illegal activity.

"There is no real way of knowing how many people paid money to Mr Lutelu because people in New Zealand unlawfully may be afraid to contact us.

''However, I believe the majority have already come forward as they know the Immigration Advisers Authority has no power to deport them."

Under the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007, anyone providing immigration advice must be licensed or exempt from the requirement to be licensed.

The only people who can give immigration advice without a licence are those who are exempt under the act, including lawyers, and those working at community law centres or citizens advice bureaus.

Call the Immigration Advisers Authority on freephone 0508 422 422.