An immigration adviser botched a client's visa, made numerous applications without his knowledge to rectify her mistake including forging his signature, and strung the student along for four years before the ruse was up.
The international student was left without a valid visa to live and study in New Zealand when he finally discovered Ying Tian's dishonesty.
Tian, also known as Tina Qin, even pretended to call Immigration NZ in front of the student to reassure him his application was underway.
She allegedly then arranged for a follow-up call to her client from someone claiming to be an immigration agent.
Tian's immigration adviser licence had already been suspended in 2020 after she misunderstood application instructions while representing five migrant workers from China.
In a decision released last week by the Immigration Advisers Disputes Tribunal, the panel upheld the latest complaint and will decide on sanctions against Tian in the coming months.
Given that she has had four complaints upheld against her already the tribunal said it would consider cancelling her licence permanently.
According to the decision, the student only found out from the polytechnic he was studying at that he was still on a visitor's visa and that his student visa had been botched.
Tian blamed the visa officer, who she said granted the wrong visa to her client.
The complainant, a Chinese national, arrived in New Zealand in 2014 at the age of 18. He and his mother engaged the services of Tian to assist with his immigration status and he was granted a visitor and student visa.
Then Tian's efforts effectively stalled.
After supplying inadequate information to Immigration NZ on her client's behalf, she said she would follow up with them, but never did and the student's application was declined.
She resubmitted a visa application without his knowledge or consent, and again didn't tell him when it was declined.
Tian applied for a discretionary student visa – available to people who are unlawfully in New Zealand – without the student's knowledge or consent.
Accompanying this submission was a letter with a signature intended to be the student's but it was not.
The letter apologised for his carelessness and for not paying attention to the visa process.
A further three visa applications were lodged and declined, all without the client's knowledge.
As a last resort Tian lodged an application for the student, his mother and two others under the investor category – however, this too was ultimately declined as key information was missing from the application.
Tian then led the student and his mother to believe she was still representing him and negotiating with Immigration NZ, though she was not.
The student said he thought Tian had control of his visa status. He understood she was working on another student visa application.
He told the tribunal that by "active deception", Tian convinced him for three years that the residence and student visa applications were being processed.
Whenever he enquired about progress, she did something to make him believe Immigration NZ doubted the application and more evidence would be required.
According to the decision, she discouraged him from contacting Immigration NZ directly, as she said it would be detrimental to the application.
"It is difficult for me to accept that I have been waiting for four years for no progress. Now even I ask for the most basic information from you ... you evade my requests," the student's mother said in a text to Tian in January last year.
"I truly feel I have lost trust and confidence in you. Perhaps there might not even be an application number at all.
"If he is your child, will you let him miss out the best period of his life?" she said in a follow-up text two months later.
The student's mother was right, there was no application number.
The complainant approached another immigration adviser in January 2021 and found out no applications had been lodged since 2017 and that Tian had been suspended.
The tribunal called Tian's actions "disgraceful" and said because of her "active deceit" the student spent four years waiting to be granted a visa.
"He was prevented from obtaining a tertiary education. She had effectively stolen four years of his life.
"There was no live application with Immigration NZ at the time. She was consciously leading the complainant to believe that there were extant applications before Immigration NZ.
"This pretence went on for more than three years. On April 16, 2019, she even falsely claimed that a visa was to be approved.
"Her conduct is disgraceful."
- by Jeremy Wilkinson, Open Justice