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Newsletter July 2012

Improved licence application forms

Immigration adviser licence application forms have been updated to make them writable and more user-friendly.

The new writable format will allow you to:

This means you can part-fill your renewal form, save it and finish it later.

The following forms are available in the new writable format:

The initial immigration adviser licence application form will not be available in writable format until a later date.

Important note: You must still print, sign and post your application form to us. We can only accept hard copy application forms with hand-written signatures.

You cannot submit any forms by email or fax.

When completing the forms, you may find it easier to switch off the auto-complete function in your Adobe software. To do this:

Tribunal upholds decision with no further action taken

In May we saw the first instance of the Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal (the Tribunal) upholding a complaint without imposing a sanction.

The adviser was asked to obtain a residence permit and vary a work permit. Some time later, the client’s Expression of Interest (EOI) was selected from the pool.

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) queried the client’s eligibility for a residence permit but the adviser failed to lodge a response with INZ and the EOI was declined.

The issues to be determined by the Tribunal were whether the adviser:

  1. gave correct advice to apply for a permit
  2. met their obligations to respond to INZ’s queries.

The chair noted the adviser’s uncertainty about the client’s eligibility for a residence permit was recorded in writing when the adviser was engaged. Therefore, the chair dismissed the first part of the complaint stating the client had been “properly advised, and gave her informed consent to the course of action adopted”.

Learnings

The second part of the complaint was upheld. The adviser did not meet their obligations to respond to INZ’s queries.

When INZ requested further information, the adviser made some attempts to contact the client by telephone and using an email address of one of the client’s family members but the chair said the “complaint that there was inadequate communication was justified. First, the adviser failed to take the necessary steps required, given the importance of a response to Immigration New Zealand. The adviser needed to attempt to inform the client in writing, and explain the importance of a response. I accept that the adviser did take some steps, but they were not commensurate with the importance of the communication.”

The chair ruled that the adviser had breached clause 1.1 of the Code of Conduct. “The failure in relation to communication involved a lack of care and diligence of sufficient gravity to require that conclusion.”

The client sought and received a full refund of costs and expenses before the chair made his final decision.

The chair said the adviser had “responded as a concerned professional addressing the direct effect on the client, and has changed office systems to ensure the error will not occur again.”

The chair decided to take no further action because:

  1. “It was an issue that sits at the low end of the scale”, and
  2. the adviser “has actively taken steps to redress the consequences for the client, and changed the systems in the office to ensure there is no repetition of the error”.

Learnings

Inspections at renewal

Over the next few weeks some of you will be starting to receive renewal reminders that include a request for a file for inspection.

Roughly half of all advisers who have not qualified for fast-track renewal after their second or third renewal will be selected at random for inspection.

Inspections will initially involve the Authority randomly selecting and then requesting a particular client file from advisers. This will be done from within the client list administered by the adviser within the last 12 months. The selected file will need to be submitted with your renewal application instead of the self-selected file that is usually submitted. Assessors will then assess the selected file.

Following the paper assessment, we could:

  1. Send an improvement letter explaining what changes need to be made.
  2. Carry out an on-site inspection.
  3. Raise an own motion complaint.
  4. Take no further action.

As we mentioned in our June newsletter, the primary aim of inspections is to improve the profession via a largely educative approach.

Immigration adviser ordered to pay $10,500

A dishonest immigration adviser was ordered to pay $10,500 after the Tribunal found she pocketed clients’ funds without lodging their visa applications.

Alungamonu (Laki) Tangilanu (Monu) told one client her secretary had stolen his money and lied to another by saying her visa applications had been submitted.

Read the full press release--

Business activity at renewal or upgrade

When you renew or upgrade your licence, you are asked to provide details of how many applications or requests you have had approved or declined by INZ.

As per page 14 of the Application Form for Renewal of an Immigration Adviser Licence or Application Form for Upgrade of an Immigration Adviser Licence these figures are to be taken from your own records for the time period since your current licence was granted. You should not request these figures from INZ, and approximate figures are acceptable.

Up until now our policy documents had been silent on this issue but have now been amended to reflect the above.

Former licensed adviser has 5th complaint upheld

A former licensed immigration adviser has had a fifth complaint upheld by the Tribunal.

In the latest case Artika Devi failed to:

Ms Devi has been ordered to pay a penalty of $1,500 and to refund fees to her client of $1,505. Added to the previous four complaints to date, Ms Devi has been ordered to pay a total of $38,176.

The Tribunal chair stated that “unfortunately, even now dealing with the fifth complaint upheld against her, Ms Devi blames her client and accuses her of misleading the Tribunal.” He continued that “the Tribunal is faced with an Adviser who has failed to take responsibility for failing to meet her professional responsibilities, shown no contrition, provided no apology to her client, and not signalled any intention to change her conduct…to put the matter frankly, she is a danger to herself if she is practising on her own account with her present level of skill and judgement.”

Artika Devi was prevented from applying for a licence, other than a provisional licence, for two years from the date her licence was cancelled as a result of a previous complaint. The chair advised that “she should regard two years of direct supervision as a minimum period to develop her skills to a level where she can expect to act as an unsupervised principal offering services to the public.”

Immigration New Zealand branch seminars

Henderson
The next INZ Henderson Branch Seminar is on Friday 27 July 2012 at The Trust Stadium, Central Park Drive, Henderson from 10am-12:45pm.

The Authority will be giving a presentation to update you on the qualification which is starting on 16 July 2012. The July intake is now full and prospective students are being asked to apply for the February 2013 intake.

Remember – you must reserve your place by emailing advisers.henderson@dol.govt.nz before 20 July.

Please do not send registration requests to us at the Authority.

Dunedin
The INZ Dunedin branch is planning to have their next Seminar on 19 July 2012 at 3pm. Please contact the Dunedin branch directly for details.

Updated fee information on the website

Compare your fees to the average and median fees charged by other advisers on our updated web page.

We calculate average and median fees using information you provide in your upgrade or renewal applications.

See the latest figures for 2011-12 --

Adviser numbers

Full licence 417
Limited licence 17
Provisional licence 78
Total licences 512
Adviser on/offshore 364/148
TTMRA licensed 95
Refusals decided 23
Appeals decided 4
Complaints to tribunal 108

We received a visit from the Minister of Immigration

On 7 June, the Minister of Immigration Hon Nathan Guy visited us at our offices in Auckland and met all of our staff.

Feedback

The newsletter exists to help you in your role as a licensed immigration adviser. Here we aim to keep you abreast of tribunal news and industry developments while helping you improve your professional practice. As always, we welcome your feedback. Is there something you would like to see included here? Tell us.