Posts Tagged ‘immigration advisers complaints and disciplinary tribunal’

Migrants defeat bad immigration adviser

September 5, 2011

I am delighted to offer my congratulations to the Whiles-Clarry family, members of move2nz.com since June 2009, who have successfully used the Immigration Advisers Licensing legislation to have the license of a dishonest and incompetent immigration adviser cancelled.

Through their efforts and diligence they have helped protect other migrants from the same problems. Well done!

Read the full story
I have been following this case all the way through and present the whole story of this brave family’s fight in a full article on move2nz.com here spread over 6 pages.

In this article I have included a summary of this family’s fight, success and anger at the adviser’s claims.

Congratulations to the Immigration Advisers Authority
I bet a lot of the long term readers of move2nz are picking themselves off the floor and saying “WHAT!?” (as move2nz and I have a little ‘history’ with the IAA), but I am serious.

Congratulations are in order to both the IAA and Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal and I have sent my congratulations personally to Barry Smedts, Registrar of the IAA because of their part in this ruling.

Immigration Advisers

In 2009 new legislation was introduced to block anyone not licensed from providing immigration advice. The IAA act as a licensing office and police force, investigating complaints and passing serious cases to the Tribunal which acts as a court.

While some Immigration Advisers are excellent move2nz had collected dozens of horror stories. As a result we were very supportive of a system providing protection for migrants and somewhere for us to send these complaints.

However we have been critical of this system since its inception, like many immigration advisers, because the IAA appeared to provide no real protection for migrants.

Glen Standing
Glen Standing

What we had been waiting for was action to start weeding out the bad apples. Our congratulations are presented today because for the first time the system has done just that. A migrant has complained and as a result the adviser, Glen Standing of Golden Sands Immigration and Living New Zealand has been held to account.

The Tribunal has for the first time imposed serious penalties, and in addition to losing his immigration adviser’s license Standing has been directed to refund fees, pay compensation and penalties of just under $20,000.

This is the first real success story for the IAA and Tribunal, a major step forward in the fight to protect migrants against rogue advisers. As all of our concerns about the system being set up were valid and well-founded it’s only fair to offer congratulations to these departments when they get it right.

 


A common tale

Like many before them, everything went well with Golden Sands for the family until they arrived in New Zealand. Vulnerable and alone in a new country customer service from the company went downhill fast and the job search help they had paid for was almost nonexistent. In the end it took over 21 weeks for Stephen to get a job, costing the family thousands in lost income and accommodation.

Despite this Golden Sands started demanding the second half of the fee owed to them and threatened to withhold documents and a passport until the money was paid.

Christine telephoned the immigration department and discovered that almost all the immigration advice Standing had given her was wrong, meaning they had experienced months of delays and thousands in extra costs simply because of their adviser. They lodged a complaint with the IAA in September 2010.

The Ruling

A final decision was reached on 30th June 2011 ruling against Standing on all counts. The Tribunal found that he was in breach of the code of conduct all licensed immigration advisers need to comply with, with the Chairman described this as a “grave lapse from professional standards“. Standing was ordered to pay penalties of $2,000 and compensation, loss of income and a refund of fees to the family totalling $19,458.

But that wasn’t the end of the story. On August 18th Standing wrote to the Tribunal and the family stating that he was liquidating his company and so wouldn’t be able to pay the penalties and compensation! This appears to be incorrect as you’ll see in the full article.

Ruined by the Tribunal

The next day an article appeared in the Nelson Mail giving voice to Standing who claimed ‘I’ve been ruined by tribunal. The article contained factual errors and presented Standing as being forced to close his business, making his staff redundant, as a result of what he considered to be ‘despicable’ handling of the case.

However Standing’s framing of the situation appears to be misleading and incorrect as the Tribunal gave him the option of obtaining a provisional license to re-enter the immigration business under supervision.

Standing’s claim that he couldn’t continue operating as there are no other licensed advisers in Golden Bay to supervise him is at odds with the IAA’s supervision policy which states that an adviser can be supervised even by a licensed immigration adviser in another country:

So Standing could have applied to be supervised by someone outside Golden Bay and had no reason to close his business at all.

Summary

The IAA and Tribunal have removed one of the immigration advisers we have the most negative stories about. There has even been another ruling against Standing in which he was ordered to pay $1,500 to another migrant family had problems getting a refund.
Now you have an avenue to take if you encounter problems with a licensed immigration adviser make sure to lodge a complaint if you need the IAA’s help. It might take a while, but it’s always worth fighting your corner and now you have a fighting chance.

What have you done with Mike?
Before you start wondering who I am and what I’ve done with Mike, we still do have issues with the agressive way the IAA has dealt with blogs and move2nz, as well as their lack of understanding around what constitutes immigration advice (illegal for people like me without a license) and settlement advice and support (perfectly legal).

I am still fighting to force the IAA to repair the damage they did in attacking move2nz, a move which caused the cancellation of our UK Seminars and closure of our Migrant Centre. All I can legally say at this stage is that ‘settlement negotiations are being advanced through legal channels’. I’ll let you know what happens.

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