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Reference group minutes

 

Date: Tuesday, 14 August 2012, 10:30am – 2:30pm
Place: Immigration Advisers Authority, 52 Symonds St, Auckland
Attendees: IAA - Natasha Narayan (Chair - Operational Policy Manager), Barry Smedts (Registrar of Immigration Advisers), Jason Chand (Team Leader, Licensing Assessment), Zoe Gilmore (Secretariat)

INZ – Wayne Levick (Regional Manager Central)

Licensed Immigration Advisers – Toni Alexander, Jennifer De Wald-Harrison, Matt Fistonich, Howard Levarko, Robson Liang (NZAMI), June Ranson, Holger Weischede, Julie Wilson

Agenda

  1. Welcome and Previous Action Points
  2. Part D: Professional Practice Guidelines
  3. Representation on Programme Advisory Committee
  4. Website redesign
  5. Consumer Presentation and Immigration Advice Consumer Guide

1 Welcome and Previous Action Points

1.1 Natasha Narayan welcomed everyone present to the second reference group meeting. Introductions were made for the benefit of Wayne Levick, Regional Manager Central, INZ, who apologised for not being able to attend the first meeting in April.

1.2 Natasha commented that a lot had happened at the Authority since April and there was therefore a full agenda.

1.3 The previous action points were discussed and are summarised in the table below:

Action Response Status
1 The Authority will liaise with INZ to get a list of immigration advisers who are submitting exceptionally large numbers of student visas to check for “rubber stamping”. INZ data for the period from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012 for the total number of student visa applications represented by licensed immigration advisers, has been reviewed, and has not raised any concerns for follow up. It will continue to be reviewed on a regular basis. Closed
2 Reference made to a presentation on Business Ethics given at an NZAMI seminar that may be useful to incorporate in Part C. Request made to forward presentation to Natasha for consideration, and contacting the author if any material to be used. Presentation received from Holger Weischede and reviewed. No additional items to cover were identified, so no further action was taken. Closed
3 Due to time constraints, reference group members were also invited to email any written feedback on Part C directly to Natasha as well. Some members took this opportunity, and all feedback was gratefully received. Closed

1.4 Discussion around offshore student advisers, which arose as a result of Action point 1 is summarised below:

Question/Comment IAA Response
Students are receiving incorrect advice from offshore student agents – it appears in a lot of cases to be a money making exercise rather than doing the best thing for the student. The Authority is aware that there is a strong feeling about such issues within the industry, and these concerns have been well voiced - any next steps however, need to be made at a political level.
Why does the Authority have to wait for a complaint before they can investigate unlicensed behaviour? Action 4:
The investigations process relating to offences for unlicensed activity, and the complaints process for licensed advisers will be put on the agenda for November’s Reference Group meeting.

2 Part D: Professional Practice Guidelines

2.1 Part D: Professional Practice Guidelines are the fourth and final part of the Policies and Procedures Manual for Licensed Immigration Advisers. Part A is Licensing, which will require an overhaul in time for the new licensing requirements which will come into effect on 1 January 2013; Part B is Enforcement; and Part C is the Professional Responsibilities Guidelines, which covers less tangible areas of the Immigration Advisers Code of Conduct (code of conduct). Parts A to C are already available on the Authority’s website, www.iaa.govt.nz

2.2 Part D: Professional Practice Guidelines covers the more tangible aspects of the code of conduct and has been written with a focus on the perspective of an adviser new to the industry.

2.3 The document and a review template had been sent to the reference group in advance and they were asked if any of the content needed amendment. Several suggestions were made and these will be considered in the finalisation of the document.

2.4 Actions that came out of the discussion around Part D are summarised below:

Action 5: The Authority will look at rewording the question regarding the Treaty of Waitangi when producing the next Migrant Survey so that consumers are first asked if they did request information, and then, if they did, did they receive it.

Action 6: The rules around an initial consultation with a client will be communicated in the monthly newsletter once sanctions have been laid on the complaint that has produced the decision that deals with this issue.

3 Representation on Programme Advisory Committee

3.1 The qualification is now up and running, as of 16 July 2012. Keeping the qualification up-to-date is now the focus moving forward.

3.2 The Programme Advisory Committee has been established and needs two members of the Licensed Advisers Reference Group to complete the membership, as representatives of the industry.

3.3 The first meeting has been scheduled for 1pm on 30 August 2012, by web conference and will be a meet and greet. Following this, membership will likely involve a one day workshop in Tauranga in December or January to formally review the first delivery of the qualification, which finishes on 23 November 2012. The Programme Advisory Committee will then meet around twice a year to discuss updates from the INZ Quarterly Release Cycle. Meetings will probably be before semester start dates in February and July.

3.4 The course is currently full and applications for the February semester are being processed. The originally enrolled 60 full time students dropped to 54 in the first few weeks as some students did not realise the full time course would actually be “full time”.

3.5 Barry has recorded two videos which will be used to address students on the course and these will also be uploaded to the Authority’s website.

3.6 Barry was asked if the qualification would lower the professionalism of the industry because students do not have to undergo in-house experience. Barry responded that there were a lack of supervisors available for the provisional pathway to continue as the only entry way to the profession, as applicants can no longer provide four client files. The qualification is a great achievement and has been a collaborative effort between the Authority, INZ and the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic. At around $2,000 for onshore students, it is an affordable qualification. In the future the Authority may reconsider, for example, practical experience being mandatory or an entrance examination, but we are currently only a couple of years into the licensing regime and what we have now is a great achievement for that time period. It is also important to remember that all graduates will also go through the renewal process.

3.7 Jennifer De Wald-Harrison, Julie Wilson and June Ranson volunteered as members of the Programme Advisory Committee. Howard Levarko added that he would volunteer if there were not enough people who were interested.

Action 7: Two of the volunteers would be selected, and the group advised in due course.

4 Website redesign

4.1 The Authority hired a temp for a two week period, for the purpose of documenting the whole website, and reviewing it to suggest improvements. This exercise showed both errors that can be fixed more easily, and design issues that required more detailed examination. The former will be put on the Web Team’s Work In Progress list to work through as capacity allows.

4.2 In terms of the design issues, it was noted that the website has not been critically reviewed since its creation, and it is now time to revisit its structure to ensure that it is meeting the purposes for which it is intended. The website was also designed more from the perspective of how the Authority thinks, and now that the licensing regime is more well settled, it is a good time to revisit the website’s design, and see the opinions of advisers in this process.

4.3 Natasha showed the reference group a presentation from the Web Team about how the three online exercises that will be sent to licensed advisers will work, and the dates on which these would occur. All members of the reference group will be sent the exercise and other volunteers are also being sought. Natasha is meeting with the Web Team in Wellington on 28 August 2012 to finalise the list of website topics that will be emailed out for sorting, and the exercise will commence on 3 September 2012.

Action 8: If there are any topics missing from the list provided please forward them to Natasha before 28 August 2012.

4.4 The focus will be on the adviser sections of the website for the remainder of 2012 so that it is ready for new graduates applying for licences from 1 January 2013. In the second half of the financial year the consumer sections of the website will be reviewed.

4.5 Work on the Adviser Only Access Project, which would allow secure access to areas of the website for advisers, is also ongoing. The website redesign work will be linked into this work as appropriate moving forward.

4.6 In terms of consumer interest, the most popular pages currently are the Immigration Advice Consumer Guide and the Cost of an Adviser pages. Copies of the Immigration Advice Consumer Guide, the Consumer Poster, and the Complaint Form have been sent out to all INZ Branches, Settlement Support New Zealand (SSNZ) offices, Community Advice Bureaux and Community Law Centres in the last couple of weeks. The Immigration Advice Consumer Guide is also being translated into Tongan, Samoan and Simplified Chinese.

4.7 Discussion coming out of this agenda item is summarised below:

Question/Comment IAA Response
Do complaints have to be in writing? A complaint must be in writing for it to be accepted. However, it does not need to be the person who received the advice who makes the complaint, but you do need the client’s consent. Please send any information to the Authority as we have a range of enforcement options available to us.
Could the Tribunal decisions be catalogued by area of the code that has been breached? Not all grounds for complaint relate to the code of conduct. Also, the structure of the decisions does not always make them straightforward to catalogue. In-house we are looking at decisions and pulling out action points for each team – including sending communications out to advisers.
Could any translated material on the website have a link on the home page in the translated language? Action 9: We will look at this option when looking at the redesign of the website.

5 Consumer Presentation and Immigration Advice Consumer Guide

5.1 Zoe Gilmore gave the presentation that we are currently giving to consumer groups, and copies of the Immigration Advice Consumer Guide and the Complaint Form were also distributed, to all those present.

5.2 Discussion arising after the presentation is summarised below:

Question/Comment IAA Response
Employers and recruiters can be a problem – sometimes they are providing advice and are unaware that they should not be. We are producing guides for employers and recruiters.
Action 10: Wayne Levick is going to look at the options available within current INZ communications to strengthen the message to employers about not giving immigration advice.
The complexity of a particular type of visa, for example, a work visa, can also impact on the amount charged by an adviser. Further clarification will be made around this point in the presentation.

Meeting adjourned: 2:50pm
Next meeting: Tuesday 13 November 2012