Unlicensed immigration adviser sentenced to home detention

Published Date: October 16, 2019

16 October 2019

Timothy Joseph
Spooner has been sentenced to four months home detention and
ordered to pay $7050 reparation to victims following his
guilty plea in May to five charges laid by the Immigration
Advisers Authority (IAA) for providing advice to immigrants
when neither licensed nor exempt.

The charges related to
advice on student, visitor, work, and resident visa
applications, as well as advising one of his victims in
respect of an appeal to the Immigration & Protection
Tribunal.

The charges include four representative counts
of providing immigration advice without being licensed or
exempt, and one representative charge of asking for or
receiving a fee.

IAA is a regulatory body with the
purpose of promoting and protecting the interests of people
receiving New Zealand immigration advice. It is compulsory
for anyone, anywhere in the world, giving immigration advice
about New Zealand to be licensed, unless they fall into one
of the exempt categories outlined in the Immigration
Advisers Licensing Act 2007. Mr Spooner never applied for an
immigration adviser’s licence and was not exempt from
being licensed.

Registrar of Immigration Advisers, Andrew
Galloway, says this type of knowingly repeated offending is
not only unacceptable but unlawful and will not be
tolerated.

“Mr Spooner was clearly advised on a number
of occasions his obligation to be licensed under the Act. He
acknowledged that he intended to become licensed and despite
repeated reminders, a formal interview, caution and warning
and plenty of advice from the IAA over a long period of
time; he failed to meet the requirements of the Act.”

Mr
Spooner’s clients were migrants and international students
hoping to live and study in New Zealand. He told his clients
he had helped several people with their visas and he knew
immigration processes and regulations. He told one victim to
lie to authorities by saying he had only assisted in filling
the visa application forms and that he had not provided
immigration advice. The court heard another victim was
specifically asked to cross out sections on the form that
asked for details of any immigration adviser, or person
assisting the applicant.

“This is an example of someone
who has taken advantage of vulnerable migrants,
particularly, in the Thai and Cambodian community. The
consequence of Mr Spooner providing unlicensed advice to one
of these victims was particularly significant, as it has led
to that person no longer being able to reside in New
Zealand,” says Mr Galloway.

The Judge reviewed the
victim impact statements and noted during sentencing that
one of the victims who received advice described the panic
and fear they felt once they realised that Mr Spooner was
not licensed. This led to feelings of shame and
embarrassment especially within the victim’s own family
and fears of possible repercussions and safety.

“This
emphasises the severity of the impact people giving
unlicensed immigration advice can have on the consumers of
immigration advice in addition to potential harm to New
Zealand’s international reputation,” says Mr Galloway.

“Through our work, the IAA continue to raise awareness
that this type of offending can cause significant stress and
problems for visa applicants.

“If people need help with
an immigration matter, they should only use a licensed
immigration adviser or an exempt person.”

The IAA
investigate complaints made my any person about unlicensed
immigration advice. Individuals found breaking the law can
face up to 7 years in prison and a fine of up to
$100,000.

The IAA’s online register of licensed
advisers
is available for those who want to search for a
licensed immigration adviser. More information on the IAA
can be found at www.iaa.govt.nz

[ends]

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Published On: October 16, 2019

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