A complaint of a breach of professional obligations against a licensed immigration adviser who left his wife to work on a client’s case has been upheld by the Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal.
Adviser Damon Parker represented the complainant, a Chinese national applying for residence under the skilled migrant category, but left his wife Jessie Cheng, who did not hold a licence, to handle the client’s application.
The application failed as Immigration New Zealand found the applicant had provided false and misleading information.
Parker is the managing director of Swiftvisa, where his wife was an unlicensed employee and also described as managing director.
The adviser is also alleged to have provided false and misleading information to INZ and breaching the Immigration Advisers code of conduct.
The client was a student in New Zealand and working as a chef, and contacted Swiftvisa to assist with her application when she was offered a permanent position.
However, it was alleged that Cheng gave unlawful advice, mainly through Chinese message app WeChat.
An expression of interest and residence application was filed with Immigration New Zealand with the cover letter signed by Parker.
However, INZ found that points that were claimed, such as for two years of “grandparented study” and for New Zealand qualification were ineligible, which meant the client did not meet visa requirements.
The client was told by Cheng that INZ had sent a letter of concern but would not show her the letter because “some false allegations” had been made by INZ which Parker was contesting.
Parker only sent the letter as well as his email communications with INZ following repeated requests.
He refunded his fee of $5000 to the client who then engaged a solicitor to make new submissions to INZ.
The residence application was declined on the grounds that the applicant had inaccurately declared in the expression of interest that she had a current skilled employment of 12 months and withheld information without a reasonable basis.
The client filed a complaint against Parker to the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA), which was later referred to the tribunal.
Her complaint was that she was left to work with Parker’s wife and that Parker had initially refused to show her a letter of concern by INZ.
The IAA registrar alleged Parker had been negligent and had unlawfully used unlicensed staff to provide immigration services which was against the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act.
Tribunal chairman David Plunkett said he found it implausible that Parker’s wife was acting merely as an interpreter and that all work was done on his instruction.
“There were far too many communications using an instant text messaging system, which appears to show some rapid exchanges, for this to be likely,” Plunkett said.
“I consider it highly unlikely that Ms Cheng turned to Mr Parker for assistance every time the complainant had a query about some item of information or document required for an application.”
He said it was “contrary to common sense” to accept that Cheng’s communications were on his instruction and she was acting only as an interpreter.
Plunkett upheld the complaint against Parker, and found him to have breached parts of the code.
Parties involved have been given until September 26 to make their submissions.