Immigration adviser disciplined after couple told to remarry in NZ to gain visa

A couple who were already married in Samoa in 2011 but had not been registered, remarried in New Zealand in 2014 after their immigration adviser instructed them to.

Source: 1 NEWS

The immigration adviser who instructed the couple to remarry in an attempt to obtain a visa for the woman has been found in breach of the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act. 

The husband has been accepted to immigrate to New Zealand under Immigration's Samoan quota, but did not to mention living with his wife in his application. 

According to the decision made by New Zealand Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal (NZIACDT), the couple were allegedly told by New Zealand Immigration's office in Apia that the woman was "too old" to register. 

When in New Zealand, the woman met with Mr Tuigamala Laufou Taavao Vole for advice on how she should obtain residency, where she explained Immigration New Zealand did not know they were married. 

According to the NZIACDT decision, Mr Vole told the couple to get rid of any evidence of their Samoan marriage including their marriage license and to not mention any previous life together. 

"She should inform Immigration New Zealand that she had met her husband shortly before his relocation to this country following the grant of residence."   

The decision detailed Mr Vole allegedly told the woman to tell Immigration New Zealand she met her husband only three months before her relocation and after he had been granted residence because her partner did not declare their relationship. 

The pair informed Immigration New Zealand of their previous marriage and life together in 2018.

The complainant, whose name has been suppressed, said Mr Vole had charged her over $30,000 in legal fees over four years as well as advising her not to declare her earlier marriage and as a result she was living in New Zealand illegally. 

Mr Vole's counsel said he told the couple their failure to disclose an earlier marriage on the husband's application would likely result in the dismissal of the woman's attempt for residency. 

According to the decision, he told the pair to not mention their life in Samoa together and they should dispose of any evidence of their marriage in Samoa. 

"It was acknowledged by Mr Vole that he had fallen short in several areas. He had made a serious error of judgment in relation to the advice concerning the earlier marriage in Samoa. He was focused on doing his best for his client."

The woman's complaint against Mr Vole had been upheld by the Tribunal but the decision on whether to revoke or suspend his license is still under consideration. 

Her visa application is also still under review by Immigration New Zealand.