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August newsletter

 

Message from the Registrar

Hon Michael Woodhouse, Minister of Immigration, signed out the Licensed Immigration Advisers Code of Conduct 2014 on 5 June 2013.

The new code of conduct is the result of months of consultation and analysis and we would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the process.

Please take some time to read the new code of conduct but bear in mind that it will not come into force until Monday 13 January 2014. The current code of conduct will remain in force until then.

Over the coming months we will publish tools to help you comply with the new code.

We are also pleased to announce that E-Agent Academy will be delivering a short online course on the new code of conduct from late October. Advisers anywhere in the world will be able to complete the course online and in their own time at a cost of NZ$89.95 inc GST.

E-Agent Academy currently delivers online training for the Real Estate Agents Authority on their code of conduct.

Please email us now with your questions about the new code so that we can cover them in the training.

 

The Authority’s role in giving you guidance on the code

The Authority provides advisers with guidance on the code of conduct in newsletters and in our policy manual to help you understand your obligations better.

The Authority reviews each decision published by the Tribunal and where we consider there to be a valuable lesson for all advisers we write about it in our monthly newsletter.

We also update our policy manual if we consider that our guidance needs to change in light of a Tribunal decision, particularly where the Tribunal has given a clear direction.

In any particular circumstances, however, it is the Tribunal’s role to make a decision as to whether the code has been breached. An adviser should ultimately take their own independent legal advice on any issue of the code that they remain unsure about.

If, during the licence renewal process, it appears that an adviser has breached the code and they do not take steps to address this when it is raised with them, the Authority may either make an own motion complaint to the Tribunal or, if it relates to competency, refuse the licence application.

 

Christchurch adviser has licence cancelled for dishonesty

A Christchurch adviser has had her licence cancelled for dishonesty.

Christine Yap, of the Migration Bureau operated by Oceania Development Group, claimed her fees were in line with industry standards while charging an hourly rate of $545 and using various devices to further inflate that to $587 an hour.

The Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal confirmed that charging sign-on fees was unacceptable.

The Tribunal chair said: “Ms Yap provided no evidence that demonstrated any of the rates were fair and reasonable on the conventional grounds on which costs would be reviewed. She has never provided any direct evidence of hourly rates or established the rates were fair and reasonable.”

Registrar of Immigration Advisers Barry Smedts said advisers could take several lessons from the decision.

“At each stage of a disagreement, the adviser has the ability to influence the final outcome.  Before an issue becomes a complaint, the adviser has the opportunity to work out a way to resolve the disagreement amicably. After a complaint has been made, the adviser has the chance to present their work and fees to the Tribunal openly and professionally.

Advisers should be able to justify their fees clearly.

Since 2008 only ten advisers have had their licences cancelled by the Tribunal. The vast majority of advisers abide by a code of conduct and carry out great work for their clients.”

Read the full media release >>

Read the fees section of your policy manual >>

 

Adviser licence cancelled after being found guilty of dishonest conduct

Marion Chase-Seymour had her licence cancelled after being found guilty of dishonest conduct.

The adviser offered the client a job to help her gain residency but Immigration New Zealand rejected the offer for not being genuine after finding the adviser was running at a loss of about $40,000 a year.
In her complaint, a woman claimed the adviser had asked her to work without pay.

The Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal found the adviser’s conduct: “amounted to systematic exploitation of a vulnerable client.”

Read the full media release >>

 

Running a tight ship

Advisers may feel they hear too much about invoicing from the Authority but there is a good reason to comply.

Complaints against advisers are decided by the evidence on paper. If an adviser’s record keeping is a tight ship of honest financial dealings then they are more likely to be able to defend accusations against them.

Invoices exist to notify your clients of their obligation to make payments. If invoices don’t match the timings agreed in your written agreement, then your paperwork may not stand up to scrutiny.

Common errors regarding invoicing primarily concern timing. Make sure you get your timing right and avoid the following pitfalls.

Invoicing too early

At times advisers invoice before an instalment is payable. For example, they will invoice for lodging an application before they have lodged it. This is too early.

In this case the amount is only owed to you when the application is lodged. Only once you have completed the work you should issue an invoice for it.

Invoicing out of sync

There are times when your client will ask to change the timing of their payments. This must be agreed and recorded in writing so you can time your invoices correctly. Otherwise there will be no explanation of why your invoices are out of sync with your original written agreement.

Invoicing too late

Some advisers treat invoices as receipts.

Invoices and receipts are different. An invoice is issued before payment explaining what is owed and when. A receipt is issued after payment acknowledging how much you have received and when.

Not invoicing

It is rare that assessors will note a complete lack of invoices on file. This practice is incorrect and in breach of the code of conduct.

What to include on an invoice

  1. Identification that the document is an invoice
  2. Date of issue
  3. Identity of the client
  4. Full description of the services the invoice relates to
  5. Full description of any disbursements covered in the invoice
  6. Total amount payable
  7. New Zealand Goods and Services Tax (GST) amount, if any, payable in relation to the invoice.

Your guide to invoicing >>

 

The Authority: How we work

The licensing team is responsible for general queries, licence applications and inspections.

Administration officers make sure your queries to the info inbox info@iaa.govt.nz  and infoline 0508 422 422 are answered by the right person.  

Licensing assessors deal with your licence applications and carry out inspections at renewal. Assessors contact you directly if there is an issue with your application or inspection.  

Investigations

The investigations team deals with people who give immigration advice without a licence and complaints against licensed immigration advisers.

You can report an unlicensed person or make a complaint by completing a Complaint Form.

Your queries about complaints and unlicensed activity are directed to the investigations team where necessary.

Policy

The policy team is responsible for developing and maintaining the immigration adviser licensing qualification and other policy initiatives to support the work of the Authority, such as the code of conduct review.

The team is also responsible for providing you with written guidance in the policy manual to help you understand your obligations under the code better.

A relationship adviser sits within the policy team and is responsible for raising awareness about the licensing regime including maintaining our website and producing this newsletter.

Business support

The business support team maintains the Authority’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system and register of licensed immigration advisers. The team also supports the ongoing reporting and business requirements of the Authority.

Read more about the Authority  >>

 

Lawyer fined for immigration application errors

The Authority does not deal with complaints against lawyers but we thought this article featured in Law Talk may be of interest to you.
A barrister has been fined for making a number of errors in a client’s application and told that “immigration advice is not just a matter of filling in forms”.

The lawyer standards committee asked an experienced practitioner to “peer review” how the client’s file was conducted.

It was found that the immigration application was out of time. The barrister had not advised the client of the application’s low chances of success when submitted out of time or of the possible need for a humanitarian appeal.

His explanation, that the client did not ask about it, was considered inadequate by the committee.

He was ordered to pay a: fine of $2,000, costs of $3,000 and refund sums that had been wrongly retained.

Read the full article in Law Talk >

 

Visa Options Check opens IGMS door

Immigration New Zealand’s Visa Options Check is proving popular.

The first user came from Trinidad and Tobago on 31 May and since then users in more than 140 countries have visited the site. Most interest has come from the United Kingdom, followed by India, the United States, China and Australia.

The new eligibility calculator is set to become the “front door” to Immigration Online, also known as the Immigration Global Management System (IGMS).

 

NZ Ready – an online planner for your NZ bound clients

Here’s a great new free tool from Immigration New Zealand.

With NZ Ready your clients get a tailored planning list for their journey that stays online – so it can’t get lost, and they can update it anytime.

“…really useful in tracking my plans and required tasks prior to my move ...”

It was great - really useful...

“ … it was really reassuring to know that this resource gave so much useful information …”

For anyone planning the move to New Zealand, NZ Ready offers online peace of mind. 

 

INZ Seminar dates

Henderson Advisers Seminar – 2 August

Wellington Area Office and BMB – early November

 

Adviser numbers

Adviser numbers at 30 July 2013 were:

Full licence 483
Limited licence 20
Provisional licence 94
Total licences 597
Adviser on/offshore 426/171
TTMRA licensed 110
Refusals decided 26
Appeals decided 4
Complaints to tribunal 173