A Christchurch-based immigration adviser has been censured and fined $3500 by the Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal for exploiting an unlawful employee.

The tribunal last month upheld a complaint against Maria Socorro Angela Ortiz, also known as Anji, for dishonesty.

Ortiz, who had been convicted of being a party to exploiting an unlawful employee, acted for a Filipino client and obtained a work visa for him in July 2014 to do farm work in New Zealand.

However, he left the job and was employed by Ortiz's husband as a hairdresser without a valid visa.


There he lived and worked between six and 10 hours a day, seven days a week, without being paid, although he was given some food and cash allowances.

Both Ortiz and her husband had been convicted of multiple charges of exploiting the client, and Ortiz was sentenced to four months' community detention, 100 hours of community work and ordered to pay reparation of $8850, which was half of what the client was owed.

Her husband was ordered to pay the other half.

The tribunal had found in its decision that Ortiz had been grossly unprofessional as she failed to establish a professional relationship with her client.

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"Ms Ortiz had no written agreement with the client, had failed to take his informed lawful instructions, had failed to confirm in writing to him when his work visa was lodged and had failed to make ongoing timely updates regarding his work visa applications," the tribunal found.

It also found Ortiz had been dishonest and misleading when she falsely told Immigration New Zealand that the client was a volunteer working without compensation.

"Her conduct in providing false information to INZ must be denounced. The agency depends on the competence and honesty of licensed advisers which provides an important assurance as to the accuracy of the information that it relies on," tribunal chair David Plunkett said.


Ortiz no longer held a licence and is prohibited from holding one in the future due to her convictions.

Plunkett said her conduct would normally warrant a financial penalty "in the upper range", but took to account comments by the District Court Judge that she was of very limited means and low income while raising two children.

Ortiz was censured and ordered to pay $3500 immediately to the Registrar of Immigration Advisers.