ISeveral advisers have approached me in the last month with concerns about employers, recruitment or HR advisers or people within large companies providing immigration advice unlawfully.
The Immigration Advisers Licensing Act (the Act) does not treat individuals differently if they are running a business dedicated to immigration advice or are an employee in a large company with other duties who may also happen to provide immigration advice. Providing New Zealand immigration advice unless licensed or exempt is unlawful in either situation.
It follows that the Authority does not treat individuals any differently. We will and do investigate any information relating to unlicensed activity that comes to our attention.
So, please do send us any information you have on companies or individuals where you believe immigration advice has been provided unlawfully. This is the best way for us to take direct action.
I have also spoken with INZ and have been assured that INZ does not endorse its staff dealing with unlicensed advisers who may happen to be working for a large employer or multinational company and this is reflected in the communications that have gone to INZ staff over recent years.
I also intend to continue to improve awareness among employers and recruiters of the licensing requirements by speaking with peak bodies and getting our message out through their newsletters.
One of the most effective things for us to do is to phone, email or visit a person directly and talk to them about the licensing requirements. We do this when complaints are made to us about specific companies or individuals.
I welcome any suggestions you may have on how to tackle this issue.
Please note that on Friday 29 May, the Authority’s reception will only be open 8.30am – 9.15am and 3.45pm – 5pm.
Catherine Albiston, Registrar of Immigration Advisers
A number of upheld Tribunal decisions / sanction decisions in recent months have dealt with issues relating to licensed immigration advisers condoning unlicensed advice.
Several haven’t had sanctions imposed yet, but the number of decisions on this matter indicates this is an issue we should be bringing to your attention.
I recommend that if you employ staff or work alongside unlicensed people, for example clerical staff or managers, you take some time to read these publicly available Tribunal decisions.
Here are links to some recent decisions on this matter:
Decision -  NZIACDT 6 Y v Xue (13 February 2015)
Decision -  NZIACDT 78 - Chaiyapoom v Hu
Sanctions -  NZIACDT 11 Chaiyapoom v Hu (26 February 2015)
Decision -  NZIACDT 33 Kong v Li (23 March 2015)
Ultimately, you need to consider the definition of immigration advice at section 7 of the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act, and the Code of Conduct in regard to the responsibilities of licensed advisers, and seek your own legal advice if you wish. The Act and the Code are what you would be judged against should any complaint be made.
Last month unlicensed immigration adviser Richard Martin was sentenced to an additional two and a half months’ imprisonment on two charges relating to providing immigration advice without a licence.
Richard Martin is currently serving a three year seven month term of imprisonment on 93 immigration-related charges which he was found guilty of in June 2014. This was the heaviest penalty handed down to an unlicensed adviser, since the Immigration Advisers Authority was established in 2007. The offending which he was sentenced for in April was committed while Martin was on bail for these other offences.
You will be aware that development of a new Graduate Diploma in New Zealand Immigration Advice is now underway for introduction in February 2016.
Both the Licensed Adviser Reference Group and the Qualification Steering Group have been discussing at what point in the new Graduate Diploma a person should be able to apply for a provisional licence.
The two main options being discussed are whether a student should be able to apply for a provisional licence after completing:
If you have a view on this issue, please email us by 11 May 2015.
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Missed our last newsletter? New Competency Standards have now been agreed and will come into force on 26 November 2015.
This means that, among other things, all people who start studying towards the Graduate Certificate in New Zealand Immigration Advice in July 2015 will be required to hold a provisional licence for two years before upgrading to a full licence.
The Authority keeps all appeal decisions relating to licensing or complaints up-to-date on its website. These decisions include appeals against licence refusals and appeals against Tribunal sanction decisions and Judicial Reviews.
As you know, we have announced that we will be rolling out fast-track renewals for all advisers unless they are selected for an inspection. We are also working hard developing an online form for fast-track renewals.
Both the on-line form and the change in eligibility criteria will be launched together later this year.
Until the change is formally implemented, the current standard renewal and fast-track renewal criteria apply.
A licensed immigration adviser must confirm in writing to the client the details of all material discussions with the client.
How can we do better? Have we done a good job? Whatever the feedback, compliments or complaints, we want to hear from you.
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