21 Nov 2018

Home detention for advisor who exploited immigrants

5:21 pm on 21 November 2018

A renegade education advisor who charged thousands of dollars for unlawful immigration advice is serving nine months of home detention.

Entrance to the High Court in Auckland

Entrance to the High Court in Auckland Photo: justice.govt.nz

Helen Liu, the director of the Auckland-based education placement service Headsun International Group, was sentenced in the Auckland District Court on Friday.

The Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA) charged Ms Liu with four counts of asking for a fee for providing immigration advice despite knowing she was required to be licensed.

The charges stem from unlawful advice Ms Liu provided to seven Chinese nationals for a mix of student, visitor and work visa applications.

The Registrar of Immigration Advisers, Andrew Galloway, said this was a serious example of an education agent knowingly providing unlawful advice and taking advantage of their clients.

Mr Galloway said the IAA would continue to actively investigate and prosecute offenders like Ms Liu.

"It's hard to say how widespread it is, but it is on the attention of us and other organisations. Immigration New Zealand and the Department of Labour all work together to make sure we are looking after people at the most vulnerable end."

THe IAA has carried out 15 prosecutions in the last 10 years, of which 11 were upheld. It had two prosecutions and one sentencing scheduled before next July.

Ms Liu's company Headsun International Group was due to be removed from the companies register, but Headsun's website was still active and listed her as the managing director.

The website says the service was set up in 1999 and "we will set the best shortcut for you from the early stage of study."

The Immigration Advisers Authority urged international students to check agents were licensed before receiving advice, by visiting its website here.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs