North Shore Immigration Services (NSIS) director, Peter Woodberg has been sentenced to six months community detention for providing immigration advice to migrants without being licensed or exempt.
North Shore businessman, Woodberg also has to undergo 12 months supervision and ordered to pay $5600 reparation to victims, following his guilty plea to three representative charges laid by the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA).
NSIS has employed a number of licensed immigration advisers over the years, but he himself has never held a licence to provide immigration advice.
The charges related to advice on visitor and work visa applications. Between 2015 and 2017, Mr Woodberg travelled with his wife to South Africa to present seminars promoting New Zealand as a migrant destination. It was through these seminars that he met the victims.
Woodberg’s victims were migrants hoping to live and work in New Zealand. He told the victims he had helped several people with their visas and he knew immigration processes and regulations. He told some of his victims to lie to border authorities by saying they were only travelling to New Zealand for a holiday, when in reality they were seeking work here.
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. Woodberg never applied for an immigration adviser’s licence and was not exempt from being licensed.
Acting Registrar of Immigration Advisers, Simon Van Weeghel, says this type of knowingly repeated offending is serious and will not be tolerated.
“Woodberg has employed a number of licensed immigration advisers over the years, and was previously warned of the obligation to be licensed under the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007. Despite this, he blatantly continued to give immigration advice knowing it was unlawful to do so.
“This is an example of someone who has taken advantage of vulnerable migrants particularly in the South African community, and emphasises the impact that unlicensed immigration advice can have on consumers, in addition to potential harm to New Zealand’s international reputation ” says Van Weeghel.
The IAA is a government regulatory body with the purpose of promoting and protecting the interests of people receiving New Zealand immigration advice. It investigates complaints about unlicensed immigration advice, and individuals found breaking the law can face up to seven years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $100,000.
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