December newsletter

Message from the Acting Registrar Catherine Albiston

Kia ora

Image of Catherine Albiston, Acting Registrar to Immigration AdvisersThank you to everyone who participated in our recent consultation on licensing standards. I have given serious consideration to your views, best regulatory practice and the aims of immigration adviser licensing. Over 80 immigration advisers attended consultation meetings and a total of 206 completed responses were received on the survey – 193 from licensed immigration advisers.

Decisions have now been made and are outlined in the article below. There is also a link to the results of the consultation.

This is a significant milestone in the development of licensing standards for immigration advisers. It will see new advisers receiving better support as they gain experience and focus all advisers on high-value CPD activities.

We continue in our efforts to take action against unlicensed activity. Unlicensed immigration adviser Richard Martin was jailed for over three and half years and the Authority has laid 17 charges against an unlicensed South Auckland woman, following a thorough investigation.

I would like to thank you for your support and involvement in what has been a challenging year. I wish you all a very happy holiday season..

Catherine Albiston
Acting Registrar of Immigration Advisers


New licensing standards

Over the past year there has been a lot of discussion about what immigration adviser licensing standards should be. MartinJenkins recommended introducing practical experience before an adviser is granted a full licence. The Authority’s reference group discussed the topic throughout the year and over 200 licensed advisers contributed their views in October.

Respondents were generally supportive of the proposal to extend the entry qualification to a one-year graduate diploma, the fast-track renewal proposal and the idea of learner-centred, active CPD.  However, there was opposition to the proposal to enable graduates of the graduate diploma to apply for a full licence.

As a result of the consultation, with the endorsement of the Authority’s reference group and the Minister of Immigration’s agreement, the following package of changes has been agreed:

  1. Extending the immigration adviser’s entry qualification to a one-year graduate diploma (full-time), including an optional work placement as part of the diploma.
  2. Students (after completing the first two courses) or graduates may only apply for a provisional immigration adviser licence which means they must work under the direct supervision of a full licence holder.  To upgrade to a full immigration adviser licence, a person must hold the Graduate Diploma in New Zealand Immigration Advice and have held a provisional licence for two years.
  3. Every adviser must complete 20 hours of learner-centred active continuing professional development each year and the Registrar of Immigration Advisers may require mandatory CPD activities for all or some immigration advisers from time to time.
    1. All licensed immigration advisers must maintain a CPD plan, verified attendance records and reflections on their CPD.
    2. CPD activities must come from at least two of the following groups of activities:
      • Giving or receiving training – (courses, conferences, seminars, webinars)
      • Giving or receiving coaching or mentoring
      • Study groups
    3. Activities must be verifiable, provide for interaction/feedback, be planned and structured with a stated purpose and outcomes, and be related to the adviser’s identified learning requirements.
  4. Extending fast-track renewal to all advisers, coupled with an increased number of risk-based inspections.

Please note that these changes will not come into effect immediately. The likely programme for implementation is:

  1. Introducing a one-year Graduate Diploma in New Zealand Immigration Advice – 2016.
  2. Requiring graduates to hold a provisional immigration adviser licence for two years before upgrading to a full immigration adviser licence – All students beginning study from February 2015 will be required to meet this requirement. Students who began study before 2015 may continue to apply for a full licence on graduation.
  3. Changes to CPD – Implementation date yet to be announced, likely during 2015.
  4. Extending fast-track renewal to all advisers – Implementation date yet to be announced, likely during 2015.

Further details on each of these changes will be provided in due course.

Read the summary of consultation here [PDF, 9 pages, 496kB] >>


Heaviest penalty handed down since Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007 came into force

Image shows NZ Coat of Arms. Unlicensed immigration adviser and former immigration lawyer Richard Martin has begun a jail sentence of three years and seven months, following his sentencing in the Auckland District Court on the 13th of November.

Mr Martin’s sentence is the heaviest penalty ever handed down to an unlicensed adviser since the IALA came into effect in 2007, reflecting the seriousness of this offending.

Mr Martin, aged 48, had been found guilty by Judge Mary Elizabeth Sharp at a trial in June this year on 93 charges which included:

  • 37 charges of forgery
  • 35 charges of supplying false or misleading information to an immigration officer
  • 11 charges of asking for or receiving fees for immigration advice when neither licensed nor exempt
  • 9 charges of providing immigration advice when neither licensed not exempt
  • 1 charge of holding out as an immigration adviser when neither licensed nor exempt.

The offending was committed between May 2009 and September 2010 when Mr Martin provided immigration advice through Richard Martin Immigration Limited and forged lawyer’s signatures on immigration documents.

At sentencing, Judge Sharp talked of Mr Martin’s customers being ‘badly duped by him and were left feeling extremely let down’. She went on to discuss one customer in particular who was in New Zealand legitimately, believing Mr Martin was processing her visa application to remain in the country, but after she contacted Immigration New Zealand, despite numerous failed attempts at contacting Mr Martin, the victim was advised that there was no active visa application for her and she was in New Zealand illegally.

Read the IAA media release, issued following the sentencing

Listen to Catherine Albiston’s interview on Radio New Zealand’s Checkpoint on 13 November


Charges laid against South Auckland unlicensed immigration adviser

Scales of Justice. The IAA has laid a total of 17 charges against a South Auckland woman in the Manukau District Court.

The charges relate to alleged offending between October 2011 and October 2013 and include six of providing immigration advice without being licensed or exempt, knowing she was required to be, six of holding herself out as providing immigration advice and five of receiving fees for the provision of immigration advice without being licensed or exempt, knowing she was required to be.

Read the IAA media release


Immigration adviser licence cancelled following immigration convictions

On the 17th of November, the director of Ancheng International Group Ltd Jinyan (Jennie) Zhang was sentenced in the Wellington District Court for her role in the exploitation of migrant workers.

Ms Zhang was involved in applying for visas for Chinese chefs who paid the agency to help them complete work visa applications to come to New Zealand.

Ms Zhang had pleaded guilty to a total of seven charges, including four of aiding and abetting various Chinese nationals to breach their visa conditions, one representative charge of attempting to obstruct the course of justice relating to four victims and two charges of supplying false or misleading information to Immigration New Zealand.

She was ordered to pay reparation of $30,000 to six of the victims and was sentenced to 10 months home detention and 300 hours community work.

Ms Zhang’s immigration adviser licence was cancelled on 11 November 2014.

Read Immigration New Zealand’s media release


Planning to upgrade or renew in December?

CORRECTION Limited and provisional licence holders who were licensed under the 2010 Competency Standards have until Monday 5 January 2015 to lodge their upgrade application without completing the qualification. Please note, however, that if your application is not complete, we will not be able to lodge the application that day. If your upgrade application is not lodged by 5 January 2015, you will have to complete the required qualification in order to upgrade your licence.

We are anticipating a high volume of renewal and upgrade applications in December and January and encourage you to get your application in early to avoid delays.

The Authority is closed from 25 December 2014 and reopens on 5 January 2015. Our reception closes at midday on 24 December 2014.


Industry places on the Graduate Certificate in New Zealand Immigration Advice

Image showing course cover. To reserve an industry place on the Graduate Certificate in New Zealand Immigration Advice in semester one 2015, your request must be received by Friday 19 December 2014.

Each semester, the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic reserves 20 places for people currently employed within immigration practices. These places can be either full-time or part-time.

To reserve an industry place, the employer needs to contact david.lyon@boppoly.ac.nz and confirm that the employee:

  • Has a formal employment relationship with their organisation.
  • Will be required by their organisation to apply for an immigration adviser licence once they graduate.

Once an industry place has been offered to the employer’s organisation, the prospective student will need to apply and meet the academic and entry requirements of the programme before they can enrol and utilise the place reserved in their name.

In 2015, the Graduate Certificate starts on 2 February and 6 July. The qualification can be studied full-time over one academic semester (17 weeks) or part-time over up to two years.


Did you know, under the 2014 Code...?

Question mark image

24. A licensed immigration adviser must:

  1. ensure that refunds given are fair and reasonable in the circumstances
  2. ensure that refund obligations can be met, and
  3. promptly provide any refunds payable upon completing or ceasing a contract for services.

Read more about refunds >>


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