MANILA -- As more Filipinos travel overseas, either as tourists, students, workers or immigrants, so are the cases of those being victimized by unlicensed travel agents or immigration advisers.

Thus, an official of the New Zealand Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA) urged Filipino travellers to be more discerning in choosing their immigration advisers.

IAA Registrar Catherine Albiston, in a briefing, said New Zealand is among the popular destinations for Filipino migrants but pointed out that “it may not be a common knowledge that anyone who needs help completing a New Zealand visa application must get advice from the right person.”

She explained that getting an immigration adviser is not a requirement for New Zealand visa applicants but cited that if the applicants need help “then only a licensed immigration adviser or exempt person can assist them.”

The exempt persons include the Immigration New Zealand staff, current New Zealand lawyers, and education agents, with the latter focused only on helping about student visas.

“Unfortunately there are people who operate unlawfully and provide advice without a license, which can result in a distressing situation for the visa applicant and their family Albiston said.

Data from the Immigration New Zealand Manila showed that to date, about 4,497 applications by Filipinos for residence in that foreign country have been approved while 40,631 temporary visa approvals have been issued.

Of the total temporary visas approved, bulk are for students and other domestic (such as dependent of workers) at 2,375 while 1,708 approvals were issued for international students.

Work visas approved to date for Filipinos number to around 14,887 while visitor visa approvals totaled to 21,661.

Albiston said no Filipinos have been jailed in New Zealand for immigration violations so far and she hopes that this will always be the case.  

She said there are about nine licensed immigration advisers currently based in the Philippines.

She said fees for the services of these professional should be “reasonable and fair for the services they provide.

She said people who think that prices being asked by the advisors are too steep can inquire with the IAA and if proven that the advisors erred in the pricing of their services they would be required to refund the fees. (PNA)