Auckland woman charged with illegally giving immigration advice
An Auckland woman has appeared in court charged with giving illegal immigration advice.
The Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA) said it laid 22 charges against the woman, who is facing allegations of providing immigration advice without a license, advertising that she was able to give advice, and receiving fees for advice she gave.
Maria 'Ilaisaane Valu-Pome'e appeared in the Waitakere District Court on Tuesday.
The Tongan woman is accused of giving illegal advice to Pacific communities.
The IAA said it had thoroughly investigated Valu-Pome'e on the back of a campaign to raise awareness amongst Pacific communities that unlawful visa advice can cause problems.
"The IAA ran a campaign earlier this year to raise awareness amongst Pacific communities in New Zealand, as well as in Tonga, Samoa and Fiji, that unlawful immigration advice can cause significant stress and problems for visa applicants," IAA registrar Catherine Albiston said.
"This case serves as a strong reminder the IAA will not tolerate those who provide unlawful New Zealand immigration advice."
Valu-Pome'e has been remanded on bail until July 6.
People seeking immigration advice should check a public register of all licensed advisers, found on the IAA website.
The IAA investigates complaints made by the public about poor or unlicensed immigration advice.
If convicted of the offences, Valu-Pome'e faces up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.