A licensed immigration adviser is believed to have falsified information to dupe a client into thinking the information came from the Minister of Immigration, and is now the subject of an official investigation.
A complaint has been laid with the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA) which says it is acting swiftly due to the seriousness of the alleged breaches, and has forwarded the matter to the Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal (IACDT).
This is the latest in a string of recent complaints against licensed advisers which has included exploitation of an unlawful employee, farming out work to unlicensed advisers and in one case, using an unlicensed spouse to do the work.
IAA Registrar Andrew Galloway confirmed the authority has received a complaint regarding "alleged serious breaches involving dishonest and misleading behaviour, in particular falsifying information".
"Due to the serious nature of these alleged breaches, the IAA has moved swiftly to investigate the complaint and has referred the matter to the IACDT in the interest of protecting the consumers of migration advice," Galloway said.
He said the IAA takes complaints regarding potential breaches of the code of conduct for licensed advisers very seriously.
"The matters in the complaint are not public until determined by the IACDT and a public decision will be issued at that stage," Galloway added.
An immigration adviser who is aware of the matter claimed a licensed adviser is alleged to have falsified documents, telling his client that they were from the Immigration Minister.
"The client found out these documents were fake and filed a complaint with the IAA," said the adviser, who did not want to be named.
The advisor said they were shocked by the alleged conduct.
Last month the IACDT upheld a complaint against Maria Socorro Angela Ortiz, who is currently facing sanctions for dishonesty after making a client work unlawfully at her husband's hair salon, most of the time without pay.
Auckland-based adviser Harinder Singh was censured and fined by the tribunal for farming out work to an unlicensed adviser overseas, and a complaint against licensed adviser Damon Parker, who left his unlicensed wife to work on his client's case was also upheld.
The New Zealand Association for Migration and Investment said it was concerning that advisers are committing serious breaches of law.
The association, however, wants to reassure that most licensed advisers remained trustworthy and honest.
"It is concerning that there have been a number of licensed advisers who have been prosecuted for serious breaches. However, as in any profession, there are those who operate outside the law," said Simon Moore, NZAMI director.
"Eventually they will be caught, prosecuted and banned from the industry and NZAMI supports the IAA in its pursuit and prosecution of these people."
Moore said most advisers and immigration lawyers are professionals "who are trustworthy and honest" and the number being prosecuted was proportionately small.
"Applicants can be assured that...they are being protected and have the full force of the law behind them," he said.
"That is why it is important that people ensure that they only use lawyers and licensed advisers, in doing so they have the protection of the Law Society and the IAA."