20 Nov 2021

Immigration Advisor with 'history of deception' ordered to pay $26k in penalties

6:46 pm on 20 November 2021

A tribunal says migrants need to be protected from an adviser whose systemic deceptions left a couple unlawfully in the country.

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Photo: 123rf.com

Apurva Khetarpal lied to her client and gave dishonest information to Immigration New Zealand.

She has been ordered to pay almost $26,000 in penalties and compensation.

The Immigration Advisers Authority complaints and disciplinary tribunal said she was unfit to be a member of the profession.

Khetarpal, a director of Auckland firm Ivisas, had her licence cancelled in 2016 but was allowed on appeal to the District Court, to practice under supervision.

She had three previous complaints upheld against her.

Apurva Khetarpal

Apurva Khetarpal Photo: Supplied / IAA

In the latest case, she did not tell her client a visa had been declined and made her client's husband sign a false statement about an offer of a place at college, which he could not understand as he could not read English.

Khetarpal also used that in a request for ministerial intervention, even after her client had sacked her.

"Ms Khetarpal has a sustained history of serious misconduct," said the tribunal. "Her deception of her clients is systemic and her professional transgressions are widespread."

"This is now aggravated by a contempt for the disciplinary process. She has not demonstrated remorse. There is no evidence she has learned any lesson from all these complaints against her. Vulnerable immigrants must be protected from her."

The Tribunal can award general damages for inconvenience, anxiety and distress and the maximum awarded before has been $5000.

"This is an appropriate case for such an award," it said.

"It must have been profoundly distressing for both the complainant and her husband to find out that they were unlawfully in New Zealand, that they had been lied to by Ms Khetarpal and she had caused the husband to make a false statement which had been produced to Immigration NZ.

"Their immigration situation was precarious, something they would have come to know no later than when they instructed their solicitors. It must have been stressful then waiting some months for their status to be legitimised while being at risk of deportation. An order to pay $5000 will be made."

The tribunal ruled Khetarpal should not be allowed to apply for a licence to practice for a maximum period of two years.

"It is a drastic step but her extensive misconduct and refusal to engage in the disciplinary process leaves the Tribunal with no other appropriate option.

"The Registrar seeks an order that Ms Khetarpal complete Toi-Ohomai's refresher course in the event that she applies to be relicensed at the expiry of any further period of prohibition.

"However, the utility of further training is questionable. The answer to any such application from Ms Khetarpal lies in the Registrar's discretion to consider the practitioner's disciplinary history in assessing fitness to practice."