Tribunal censures immigration adviser

The Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal has censured an Indian immigration adviser, upholding two complaints brought against him by his clients.

Auckland based Rajesh Kumar has had his immigration adviser licence suspended for two years and was ordered to pay his complainant Paramjit Singh $8276 as compensation, in addition to a penalty of $4000.

A notification issued by the Tribunal on March 16, 2012 said that it had upheld a complaint against Mr Kumar vide a decision made on August 18, 2011 and that another complaint (this time by Mr Singh) has also been upheld. The decision on penalty in relation to the two companies were issued contemporaneously.

“Mr Kumar was unprofessional and incompetent. He gave inappropriate advice to pursue an appeal to the Removal Review Authority, and failed to advance the appeal competently. He was also rude and abusive in dealing with the complaint against him. The Tribunal found Mr Kumar to be openly contemptuous of New Zealand’s Parliament, the immigration laws it enacted, immigration policy through which those laws are devised and implemented and the Authority that regulates his profession,” the notification said.

The Tribunal said the above warranted disciplinary sanctions under section 51 of the Act.

It is understood that Mr Singh had sought $8276 in compensation for loss of net wages, application fee paid, counselling fee and photocopying charges.

The Tribunal said, “It was necessary to make an order in relation to Mr Kumar’s licence, apart from the fact he no longer holds a licence. The other complaint for which a penalty is being imposed contemporaneously involves dishonesty. Accordingly, it will result in an order that Mr Kumar may not apply for a licence for a two-year period, which is the maximum that may be imposed by the Tribunal.”

“If this matter stood alone, there would be an order that Mr Kumar be permitted to practice only under defined terms of supervision, and be permitted to hold only a provisional licence for a period. Mr Kumar’s misconduct is largely the result of his wrong and contemptuous views of the immigration regime he is required to work with. He would require a mentor who could supervise him, and lead him to appreciate what is required of a person offering professional services to the public. As it is not necessary to make an order relating to Mr Kumar’s licence, the issues to be addressed are compensation, and the monetary penalty,” the Tribunal notification said.

In his decision, Tribunal Chair G D Pearson said that if Mr Kumar had responded to Immigration New Zealand’s invitation to deal with Mr Singh’s application in a different way, he was satisfied that Mr Singh would probably have obtained a work permit by the end of August 2009, and been in work from that point.

“Instead, Mr Kumar pursued a hopeless appeal, which did not advance his client’s position. I am satisfied Mr Singh’s loss of the ability to work was a direct and inevitable result of Mr Kumar’s incompetence. I am also satisfied Mr Singh should be compensated for the professional fees he has paid to his counsel (including the fees yet to be recovered for pursuing the complaint), and the new application fee,” he said.

The concerning aspect was that his failure to respond to immigration New Zealand’s invitation and his contemptuous view of Immigration New Zealand, and immigration law and policy in New Zealand, Mr Pearson said.

“In this case, my approach is that the penalty imposed will be a monetary penalty that reflects incompetence,” he said.

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