New Zealand Law Society - Home detention for former lawyer who gave immigration advice

Home detention for former lawyer who gave immigration advice

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Maria ‘Ilaisaane Valu-Pome’e has been sentenced to 10 months' home detention and ordered to pay reparation of $6,420 for illegally providing New Zealand immigration advice in the Tongan community.

She was sentenced after pleading guilty in Waitakere District Court to 14 charges relating to providing New Zealand immigration advice without holding a licence or exempt status. The charges were laid by the Immigration Advisers Authority.

The IAA says Mrs Valu-Pome’e was previously exempt from the requirement to be licensed. However, after her practising certificate from the New Zealand Law Society expired in July 2013, she no longer qualified for the exemption to provide immigration advice.

"Mrs Valu-Pome’e provided immigration advice illegally to members of the Tongan community, including a Greymouth family, a couple, and a mother and daughter based in Auckland," says IAA Registrar Catherine Albiston.

"All of the victims were unlawfully residing in New Zealand when they finished their dealings with Mrs Valu-Pome’e. She didn’t successfully obtain a visa for any of them.

"Anyone seeking immigration advice should use a licensed adviser or someone who is exempt, such as a current New Zealand lawyer. A register of licensed advisers is available on our website."

Mrs Valu-Pome’e was charged with ten counts under the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007 for providing immigration advice without a licence, for holding herself out as a licensed immigration adviser, and for asking for or receiving a fee. In addition, Mrs Valu-Pome’e was charged with four charges under the Crimes Act 1961, two for using forged documentation and two for dishonestly using documents.