Up until now the Authority has not questioned the practice of advisers charging sign-on fees and we have noted in our guidance that these are not fees taken in advance.
The clear message from the Tribunal is that any fee must be justified by the work that is performed and that it is not acceptable to take a sign-on fee that does not relate to work performed or costs incurred.
The fees you charge must always be fair and reasonable, based on the work you do for your client.
Up until now the Authority has treated “money in advance” as being money taken in advance of what was contractually agreed.
The Tribunal has been clear that any money taken before the work it relates to has been performed is “money in advance” and must be held in the client account.
Any funds taken for services which have not yet been performed must be placed in the client account. Only money taken for work performed may be taken as belonging to the adviser and placed in the practice account.
Fees may not be treated as non-refundable. There may be unforeseen circumstances that arise that require you to provide a refund to your client.
If an adviser takes a fee in advance of performing the work and does not perform the expected services, they must return the portion of the money which relates to the services that were not performed.
We recommend you read our Policy Manual Part D: Professional Practice. We have updated the chapters from Fees through to Refunds.
Advisers on fast-track renewal will be pleased to hear that they are far less likely to have a complaint made against them.
Of all the advisers eligible for fast-track, only one adviser has had a complaint made against them in the last 12 months.
Fast-track renewal has been in place since 2011 and is a far quicker application process than standard renewal. It is well worth putting the time in to meet all the requirements to qualify for fast-track renewal. Of those eligible, 70% currently qualify for fast-track after their first two standard renewals.
Early indications show that advisers on fast-track are consistently following professional and code compliant practices compared to those who do not qualify.
Keep up the good work.
Due to high demand, the number of full-time places on the Graduate Certificate in New Zealand Immigration Advice has been extended from 60 to 75 next semester.
Also from July, part-time students can choose to complete both courses A and B in one semester enabling them to apply for a provisional licence. There are 30 part-time places available for new students.
We anticipate around 50 students from the February 2013 intake will graduate next month. Anyone considering employing a newly licensed immigration adviser should time recruitment around the July and December graduation dates.
An Auckland immigration adviser has been stripped of his licence after withholding a migrant's passport in lieu of fees.
The Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal found the adviser was not entitled to the fees he claimed he was owed and should not have withheld the migrant’s passport under these or any circumstances.
The adviser appealed the Tribunal’s decision at Auckland District Court. The District Court confirmed the Tribunal sanctions on 7 May 2013.
Advisers with outstanding Tribunal penalties may not have their licence renewed.
At renewal, we expect advisers who have had complaints against them upheld by the Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal to have paid all penalties in full.
Under Section 17 (b) of the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act, which relates to an adviser’s fitness to be licensed, the Registrar may take into account disciplinary proceedings and in particular “any non-compliance with any other sanction imposed under this Act.”
Where sanctions are made in close proximity to an adviser’s licence expiry, the adviser may be given leave by the Registrar but this will be determined on a case by case basis.
Upgrade your licence swiftly by following these useful tips.
Christchurch, New Zealand – provisionally 20 June
A fees questionnaire will be coming to an inbox near you.
We are asking all advisers who have been licensed for a year or longer to tell us the average fees they changed since their current licence was granted.
Results will be used to calculate average and median fees to update our cost of an adviser web page.
The rollout of INZ’s new online platform known as IGMS has started with the release of a revamped visa eligibility calculator called the Visa Options Checker.
Online visa applications start later this year with students and some temporary workers. By mid-2014, full online student visa processing will be possible through to final decision, and advisers will be able to view appropriate details of their clients’ applications online.
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