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July newsletter


Fees: Your questions answered

Your June newsletter included a fees article on how the Tribunal expects advisers to account for their fees.

Some of your questions on the subject are answered below.

1.   What is a sign on fee?

A sign-on fee generally refers to a sum of money accepted by an adviser for taking on a client  The fee does not relate to any work performed, costs incurred, or opportunities lost. It is essentially a fee for doing nothing and this is not acceptable.

2.   If I don’t charge a sign-on fee, how do I recover the costs of all of the initial work I do for a client?

It is perfectly acceptable to charge a client a fair and reasonable fee, including a mark-up for profit, for the work that you do. Advisers need to carefully consider the actual work they do and the costs they incur and establish a fair and transparent method for charging.

3.   If I charge at the end of my services, often clients just don’t pay. What do I do?

Consider the following options:

4.   What does it mean that fees cannot be non-refundable?

You are not always going to have to give a refund, but you can’t have a blanket rule against refunds.

You can calculate a refund at the time the contract ends or is terminated on the basis of the work you have done and what is fair and reasonable for you to retain.

Read more about fees >>


Tribunal rules on refunds and marketing a 100% success rate

The Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal has upheld a complaint without taking further action after an adviser refunded his client in full.

The dispute arose when the client paid an adviser $920 to seek a visa for his fiancée. The matter had not gone very far when the client told the adviser not to do any more work.

The adviser agreed to refund some money but treated $576 as “non-refundable”.

The Tribunal chair said: “The consultation was less than an hour. The advice provided did not require research, it was information that a competent practitioner working in the area could provide on the basis of day-to-day knowledge. An hourly rate of $500 (plus GST) appeared excessive.”

The complaint was also upheld because the adviser had stated he had a 100% success rate for new applicants.

The Tribunal chair said: “It was gravely misleading… as immigration applications will fail from time to time and the statement created the impression that the adviser could alter that reality.”

Read the full decision >>


Help us understand your business

We are keen to understand the obstacles you face in running your business.

We would like to find out what challenges you encounter when invoicing.
Invoices exist to notify your clients of their obligation to make payments. If invoices don’t match the payment terms agreed in your written agreement, then your paperwork may not stand up to scrutiny.

To help you comply with clause 8 (e) of the code we would first like to understand the issue from your perspective.

Email us and we will respond in our next newsletter.

Invoicing mistakes usually concern timing. Some invoice too early, some too late and a few not at all.

Others have difficulty differentiating between an invoice and a receipt or issue only one invoice for multiple payments which are payable at different times.

Give us your feedback >>

Check you are invoicing correctly >>

You and the Authority

Make sure your voice is heard by the right people.

The Authority, INZ and professional bodies all have different ways of assisting you. While we aim to be as helpful as possible, there are some issues that we simply can’t tackle. To give you an idea, we have created a table below.

Our role is based on the Authority’s nine functions under the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act.

Apply, renew or upgrade your licence

Find out the status of your client’s visa application

Promote or advertise your business

Update your listing on the online register

Complete a visa application form

Take part in CPD activities run by a professional association

Read guidance on how to comply with the code

Discuss INZ policy

Advocate on your behalf to the government

Find out about CPD

Seek immigration advice

Network with other advisers

Complain about a licensed adviser

Discuss your issues with a particular INZ decision


Submit a report about unlicensed activity

Attend a seminar on immigration policy










0508 422 422

0800 542 469

04 974 5818

09 360 8949


Access to client information on Immigration Online

Advisers have given generally positive feedback about the design of Immigration Online but want to know more about access to client information.

Below the project team answer questions raised in the recent consultation.

Q: When will I be able to see clients’ immigration information?

A: Immigration ONLINE, also known as the Information Global Management System IGMS, is being rolled out in stages until completion in 2015. Third party access to client information should become available in the second half of next year, though the timing is subject to change as the project evolves.

Q: Will I be able to see clients’ immigration history if they don’t have an application in progress?

A: Immigration New Zealand is considering a solution that will provide some viewing access while also protecting the privacy rights of applicants.

Q: How can I control access to Immigration ONLINE among my staff?

A: There will be a facility allowing a primary account holder to manage and administer access to client information, for colleagues that need it, subject to appropriate client authorisation.

Q: Who will have access to Immigration ONLINE?

A: It is likely that access will be limited to licensed advisers,  lawyers, education providers and exempt offshore student advisers  as feedback from the consultation indicated that other exempt advisers, such as Citizens Advice Bureaux, are extremely unlikely to actively represent someone in a visa application.

Read the full media release >>


Your photo

Verify your passport-sized photo properly to avoid licensing delays.
Check the photo:

Licence applications will be held up at lodgement if photos are not correctly verified.


Good time to recruit

Anyone looking to recruit new staff can promote their vacancy among immigration advice graduates by emailing the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic. This is a particularly good time to recruit as students graduate in July and December each year.


Australia/NZ alignment of panel doctors

New Zealand and Australia recently signed an agreement to align the management of an offshore network of panel physicians.

This agreement is being implemented in three phases with a view to being completed by July 2014.

The benefits of alignment include:

INZ and DIAC have also begun sending communications to our current networks of panel physicians, and INZ have published a questions and answers section and a media release on its website.


Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009

The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (CML/CFT Act) came into force on Sunday 30 June 2013.

The Department of Internal affairs has published information about the CML/CFT Act on their website which advises that the CML/CFT Act places obligations on New Zealand’s financial institutions and casinos to detect and deter money laundering and terrorism financing.

Section 5 of the CML/CFT Act provides a definition of a ‘financial institution’ which at first glance would probably cover most licensed immigration advisers. However, an amendment in the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (Definitions) Amendment Regulations 2013 at clause 9 reads as follows:

  1. 9 New regulation 18A inserted (Exclusion: non-finance businesses that transfer money to facilitate purchase of goods or services)
  2. After regulation 18, insert:
  3. 18A Exclusion: non-finance businesses that transfer money to facilitate purchase of goods or services
  4. “(1) A person is not a reporting entity, for the purposes of the Act, by reason only that, in the ordinary course of a non-finance business, the person transfers money on behalf of a customer to facilitate the purchase of goods or services by the customer.
  5. “(2) In this regulation, non-finance business means a person whose only or principal business is the provision of goods or services that are not relevant services.”

The majority of licensed immigration advisers’ activities are likely to be encompassed under facilitating “purchase of goods or services” in clause 9 above, and would therefore be excluded for the purposes of the CML/CFT Act.

However, clause 17 of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (Definitions) Regulations 2011 refers to the inclusion of “a person who carries out, as the only or principal part of their business, 1 or more of the following activities:

  1. (a) acting as a formation agent of legal persons or arrangements:
  2. (b) arranging for a person to act as a nominee director or nominee shareholder or trustee in relation to legal persons or arrangements:
  3. (c) providing a registered office, business address, or accommodation, or a correspondence, or an administrative address for a company, a partnership, or any other legal person or arrangement.”

If an adviser carries out any of the above activities for a client, they may be considered to be a “reporting entity” for the purposes of the Act.  The determining factor will be whether this activity makes up a principal part of your business.  It is strongly recommended that you seek independent legal advice to discuss your compliance obligations.

The Authority is aiming to draw your attention to the CML/CFT Act which comes into force this Sunday 30 June 2013. The guidance above is by no means a comprehensive analysis of the impact this Act may have on any given adviser. For further information you should visit the Department of Internal Affairs website, and if in any doubt as to your compliance with the CML/CFT Act it is strongly recommended that you seek your own independent legal advice.


Adviser numbers

Full licence 480
Limited licence 20
Provisional licence 97
Total licences 597
Adviser on/offshore 431/161
TTMRA licensed 108
Refusals decided 25
Appeals decided 4
Complaints to tribunal 173


INZ Seminar dates

Pretoria, South Africa – 25 July