An Auckland-based licensed immigration adviser has been censured and fined $3000 by the Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal for engaging in a practice known as “rubber stamping.”
In its decision announced of 3 Sept, the tribunal has upheld the complaint of Immigration New Zealand (INZ) that Harinder (Harry) Singh, an employee of Eagle Migration Services Ltd (Eagle Migration) had “delegated client engagement to an unlicenced person contrary to the Immigration Advisers Licencing Act 2007. This was also a breach of the Licensed Immigration Advisers Code of Conduct 2014.”
According to the tribunal records, an Auckland automotive company (the employer) approached Eagle Migration for assistance in organising visas for automotive technicians to be recruited from the Philippines.
Between March and April 2016, three clients (prospective employees of the automotive company) signed a contract with Eagle Migration for work visa applications.
In May 2016, Singh lodged the applications with INZ which were successfully approved in June 2016.
However, INZ subsequently found Singh had no direct engagement with any of his clients nor had prepared any documents, or offered any advice. None of the clients had ever met or spoken to Singh. They had all dealt with a person in a recruiting company in the Philippines.
Documents were prepared by this overseas person who was not licenced by INZ.
As Singh lodged all documents under his name, therefore, he had allowed an unlicenced person overseas to provide “immigration advice” which was exclusively reserved under the Act to licenced advisers.
The tribunal accepted that Singh did not “consciously flout his professional obligations but had made an error of judgement.” His conduct was “properly classed as a lack of due care, rather than dishonest or misleading.”
However due to the ‘seriousness’, of the charges, the tribunal decided “It is appropriate to censure Mr Singh. He accepts this. A caution would not reflect the seriousness of his conduct” as “both Singh and the recruiting company in the Philippines may have committed statutory offences.”
Balancing the serious misconduct against the mitigation identified by Singh’s counsel, the tribunal ordered Singh a penalty of $3,000.