A Tongan woman has been charged and had appeared in court yesterday after providing immigration advice without a license.

The Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA) said today it had laid a total of 22 charges against Maria ‘Ilaisaane Valu-Pome’e.

Pome’e appeared in the Waitakere District Court yesterday following a thorough investigation by the IAA into her history of providing New Zealand immigration advice without holding a licence or exempt status.

She has been remanded on bail until 6 July.

Registrar of the IAA Catherine Albiston says the charges include four charges of providing immigration advice without a licence or exempt status while knowing she was required to be licensed, four charges of advertising herself as legally able to provide immigration advice, and four charges of receiving fees for the provision of immigration advice.

In addition to charges under the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007, Mrs Valu-Pome’e also faces 10 charges under the Crimes Act 1961.

“This case serves as a strong reminder the IAA will not tolerate those who provide unlawful New Zealand immigration advice,” warns Ms Albiston.

“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.

“Anyone seeking New Zealand immigration advice should use a licensed immigration adviser or someone who is exempt. A public register of all licensed advisers can be found on our website.”

The IAA investigates all complaints made by the public about poor or unlicensed immigration advice. Individuals found breaking the law can face up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to NZD$100,000.

“Anyone can talk to the IAA about their experience without their immigration status being affected,” adds Ms Albiston.

More information on the IAA can be found at www.iaa.govt.nz.

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