A complaint against a licensed immigration adviser who farmed out his work to an unlicensed adviser overseas has been upheld by the Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal.
Harinder Singh, also known as Harry, is an Auckland-based adviser who was approached by an automotive company to assist with organising work visas for automotive technicians recruited in the Philippines.
Three clients from the Asian country signed a contract with the consultancy company Singh worked for, and their applications were successfully lodged and approved in June 2016.
But during an interview with Immigration New Zealand, it was found out that the clients had never met or spoken with Singh. Instead their documents had been prepared by a Philippines-based unlicensed agent but lodged under Singh's name.
The tribunal noted that this practice was known a "rubber stamping" in the immigration advisory industry.
INZ then gave Singh a warning and a complaint was made to the Immigration Advisers Authority. It said Singh had attempted to mislead the agency by relying on unlicensed persons to provide advice to his clients and having no contact with them himself.
Singh's lawyer contended Singh had made genuine errors, but said the clients were not charged at all and the employer was only charged a "modest fee" of $1000 plus GST for each visa.
The complaint was then referred to the Tribunal on November 21, 2017, alleging Singh had breached the Licensed Immigration Advisers Code of Conduct.
Tribunal chairman David Plunkett found that Singh "was unprofessional and failed to exercise due care in permitting an unlicensed person to provide immigration services that only a licensed person is permitted to do".
He said there was no doubt that all three clients would have asked the unlicensed agent about prospects of converting the work visas to residence visas.
At least two of them have now sought residence, and two are married and were likely to have asked for advice on how to get their families to New Zealand.
"The behaviour of Mr Singh crosses the disciplinary threshold by a demonstrable margin. The complaint will be upheld," Plunkett said in his decision.
All parties have been given until August 19 to make submissions and until September 2 to reply.