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Reference group minutes

 

Date: Thursday, 18 April 2013, 10:30am – 2:30pm
Place: Immigration Advisers Authority, 52 Symonds St, Auckland
Attendees: IAA – Catherine Albiston (Chair – Team Leader, Operational Policy), Barry Smedts (Registrar of Immigration Advisers), Jennifer Wheeler (Team Leader, Support), Jason Chand (Team Leader, Licensing Assessment), Melissa England (Team Leader, Investigations), Maheesha Kottegoda (Relationship Advisor), Zoe Gilmore (Secretariat)

INZ – Wayne Levick (Regional Manager Central), Craig Chambers (IGMS Team), Fabian Guttke (IGMS Team), Chris Hubscher (IGMS Team)

Consumer Representative - Lucy Liang (Office of Ethnic Affairs – National Operations Manager)

Licensed Immigration Advisers – Toni Alexander (NZAMI), Mike Bell, Karen Justice (NZAIP), Vanessa Sharratt, Kristy Verster, Maricel Weischede
Apologies: Kim Ang Gibbs (NZAIP), John Hu, Tufui Kama, June Ranson (NZAMI)

Agenda

  1. Setting the Scene for 2013 – how do we want to operate?
  2. Licensed adviser requirements for IGMS  
  3. Authority Update
  4. Proposed revised Code of conduct
  5. Open discussion

Discussion

  1. Setting the scene for 2013 – how do we want to operate?
    1. Catherine Albiston welcomed everyone to the reference group and tendered apologies for Kim Ang Gibbs who was to be representing NZAIP (Karen Justice attended on her behalf), June Ranson who was to be representing NZAMI (Toni Alexander attended on her behalf), Tufui Kama and John Hu.
    2. Catherine advised that there would be three reference group meetings in 2013, and that the members may also be contacted from time to time throughout the year for their written feedback on Immigration Advisers Authority (Authority) projects.
    3. Everyone introduced themselves to the group.
  2. Licensed adviser requirements for IGMS
    1. Chris Hubscher, Fabian Guttke and Craig Chambers from the INZ IGMS team gave a presentation on Immigration New Zealand’s (INZ) progress with the Immigration Global Management System (IGMS). They advised that they were looking for feedback from the reference group on how the system could be designed to help licensed advisers.
    2. INZ’s Vision 2015 is to be recognised as a trusted partner, delivering outstanding immigration services and bringing in the best people New Zealand needs in order to prosper. The vision is to deliver:
      1. A better customer experience
      2. A move away from visa processing and more effort going into marketing to attract people with skills, talent and capitol to New Zealand
      3. Better border security through the use of biometrics
      4. More services for less cost
      5. More responsiveness to changing market conditions
      6. More use of partnership models, e.g. students online
    3. Two key components to archive the 2015 vision are the:
      1. Global Service Delivery Model (GSDM)
      2. IGMS (Immigration Global Management System)
    4. Under the GSDM, INZ will be:
      1. consolidating visa processing
      2. rationalising the branch network
      3. replacing service from MFAT providers
      4. partnering with third parties to deliver some services.
    5. Visa Application Centres (VACs) have been rolled out quickly – in many cases INZ is sharing other country’s existing VACs. The VACs provide an administrative function – receiving applications and fees on behalf of INZ.  Applications are then forwarded to INZ for processing. They do not have any decision making ability.
    6. Rationalisation of the INZ branch network will see the creation of hubs for large scale visa processing with some branches either becoming specialised marketing offices or eventually closing.   The following branches will become hubs with Sydney and Dunedin branches closing this year:
      1. Auckland Central
      2. Christchurch
      3. Henderson
      4. Palmerston North
      5. Apia
      6. Bangkok
      7. London
      8. Mumbai
      9. Shanghai.
    7. 34 VACs have been opened offshore so far with others to be opened in Bali, Dubai, Ankara, Pretoria and Sydney this year.  There are also plans for onshore VACs as well.
    8. IGMS will replace INZ’s existing IT system (AMS) and once it is fully rolled out in 2015, the entire visa process will be done online, from initial application to final decision.
    9. Applicants and people acting on their behalf will be able to complete the relevant forms, upload photos and other documents to their personal immigration account, pay their application fee and ask their immigration officer questions - all online.
    10. The planned timeframe for the implementation of IGMS is:
      1. May 2013 - Eligibility Calculator
      2. Last quarter 2013 - Online applications (for Students and some temporary work visas)
      3. Last quarter 2013 - Identity
      4. First half 2014 - Students: assess and decide
      5. First half 2014 - Third party services: Education, Immigration Advisors, and others to be confirmed
      6. 2014 – first half 2015 - Rapid “layering” of additional visa application types.
    11. The reference group was shown a video about how individuals will use IGMS.
    12. Chris explained the supporting functions that the IGMS Team is exploring for advisers through the Advisor Portal and requested feedback from the group.
    13. The following actions for the INZ IGMS team came out of the resulting discussion:
      1. INZ to notify the advisers when the eligibility calculator would be coming online
      2. Look at whether the system would record the date when a case officer sees a document and make this information available to the adviser
      3. Look at the certification/verification of documents – will licensed advisers be able to do this?
      4. Make sure clients are able to “unlink” their record from a licensed adviser’s, should they stop using their services
      5. Allow read only access to clients if they are being represented by an adviser
      6. Allow access to previous client’s records, for advisers’ record keeping requirements
      7. Allow digital export of records and documents
      8. Allow ability for licensed advisers (or staff with admin access) to deregister themselves or staff should they leave a company, for example
      9. Allow multiple access to one client if more than one adviser may be working on the case, and look at admin access for advisers’ staff members
      10. Keep in contact with the Authority while looking at how client consent for advisers to view client history will work in practice – will consent be based on applications or whole immigration history of client?
      11. Consider how the system will uphold the integrity of the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007; making it difficult for unlicensed advisers to lodge applications
      12. Allowing credit card payments to be reconcilable with unique identifiers.
  3. Authority update
    1. Barry Smedts gave an update on the Authority’s activities.
    2. There are currently 597 advisers on the register.
    3. The qualification had its first delivery in July – November 2012, of which two members of the reference group are graduates, and the second delivery is underway.
    4. The Bay of Plenty Polytechnic is now also running online Modules which will count as Continuing Professional Development.
      Action 1: The Authority will send a copy of the CPD Module brochure to members of the reference group.
    5. The Office of the MARA came to the Authority’s offices for a two day meeting in March. The Authority’s Australian counterparts are a lot bigger and there is a lot that can be learned from them. A Memorandum of Understanding around information sharing is being developed between the Authority and the Office of the MARA.
    6. The redesign of the website has been a big project this year, with the adviser section now finalised and the consumer section underway.
    7. The fast-track renewal system is working effectively; it is quicker and less of a compliance burden for advisers and last year there was only one complaint about an adviser who would otherwise have been eligible for a fast-track renewal.
    8. Inspections have been introduced this year, being carried out both in the office and onsite.
    9. Since 1 July 2012, 49 complaints have been referred to the Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal and there are 24 in progress at the Authority.
    10. There are currently five defendants before the courts.
    11. From the Authority’s functions, as per Section 35 of the Act, the last thing for the Authority to set up is a continuing professional development framework – this is in the Business Plan for 2013/14.
    12. Discussion coming out of this agenda item is summarised below:

Question/Comment

Authority Response

Is there are record of how many complaints do not meet the threshold of a complaint?

When a complaint is received it goes to the Panel Meeting (consisting of the Registrar, Team Leader Investigations and the Enquiry Officer) where it is tested to see if it meets the definition of a complaint. Those that do not meet the definition are few but the numbers are not currently recorded. The Authority is looking at whether they should be.

Do offence complaints have to be made to the Authority?

No, they can be referred to the Police. However, the Authority and the Police work together to ascertain which department will be best to take the lead on a given issue.

What consumer protection is there for advisers when an adviser loses their licence?

The register shows all cancelled licences and all upheld complaints are available on the Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal page of the Ministry of Justice website. These decisions are now searchable by name. The Authority also always puts out a press release whenever an adviser loses their licence or if there is a prosecution against the Act.

There has been a high profile case where an individual has admitted on television to providing advice without a licence – what is the Authority doing?

All aspects of a case a weighed up when it is brought to the attention of the Authority. The Authority cannot comment on any potential cases; however anyone with information about any offence is encouraged to send this to the Authority (Action 2).

  1. Proposed revised Code of conduct
    1. The Authority received 108 submissions from advisers and 16 submissions from others in the January 2013 code of conduct consultation. There was some consistency in some answers but also a lot of differences. It is always difficult to juggle feedback but it is hoped advisers will be more comfortable with what is now proposed.
    2. Catherine led the discussion by running through each clause of the new proposed code of conduct and asking for feedback as it was applicable.
    3. Discussion coming out of this agenda item is summarised below:

Question/Comment

Authority Response

The Authority is only responsible for immigration advice, but it is often when advising on other related services such as job searches, that advisers participate in unprofessional activities.

It is believed that proposed clause 1(1) would cover the conduct of an adviser in any professional activity. If a complaint is made to the Tribunal the Authority cannot guess what the outcome will be so it is a personal responsibility for advisers to be honest and professional at all times.

How can you “require” employees to maintain confidentiality of clients?

Requiring the employee to maintain confidentiality is likely to protect an adviser should the employee breach this requirement. The Authority will not be requiring information about employees at renewal.

There needs to be guidance around where the line is for what constitutes a conflict of interest, and where the conflict would stop the adviser being able to provide objective advice.

Action 3: The Authority will consider how to include guidance on common activities, such as providing accommodation, education or employment services, in the new Code training materials.

The wording “as a result of advice provided to the client” in clause 1(5) is unclear as it could be implied that this only relates to “immigration advice”.

Action 4: The Authority will review the wording “as a result of advice provided to the client” in clause 1(5).

“With approval from the client” needs to be added to the end of clause 1(10)(a).

Action 5: The Authority will consider the wording of clause 1(10)(a).

What will happen to existing clients when the new Code comes in?

Action 6: The Authority will prepare guidelines around how to deal with existing clients for the new Code training materials.

Will the actual amount of GST or overseas service tax to be charged need to be included in the written agreement, or just the fact that it will be included?

Action 7: The Authority will consider how to include guidelines around how GST or overseas service tax should be indicated in the written agreement for the new Code training materials.

Suggestion that “promptly” within clause 3(11)(c) be replaced with a specific timeframe, such as 30 days.

Action 8: The Authority will consider the wording of clause 3(11)(c).

The wording relating to invoices, “each time a fee is due” should be changed back to “each time a fee is payable” to avoid confusion with due dates included on invoices.

Action 9: The Authority will consider changing all instances of “due” back to “payable” in the proposed Code.

Suggestion that clause 3(13)(f) be amended to read “including any lodged immigration application” to avoid an adviser having to hand over unfinished work to a client.

Action 10: The Authority will consider the wording of clause 3(13)(f).

Suggestion to add must not represent “immigration opportunities or risks” to clause 4(1)(e) as advisers will sometimes indicate that it is more difficult to get a visa without using an adviser.

Action 11: The Authority will consider the addition of “or risks” to clause 4(1)(e).

Suggestion that “any other costs” be removed from the fourth bullet point in the Code one-pager as it could be misleading to the client.

Action 12: The Authority will consider the wording of the fourth bullet point of the Code one-pager.

  1. Open discussion
    1. The Authority was advised that the link to the Employers Factsheet on the website was broken. Action 13: The link to the employer factsheet will be fixed.

Meeting adjourned: 3:00pm
Next meeting: Thursday 15 August 2013