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Reference group minutes

 

Date: Tuesday 25 November 2014, 10:15am – 3:15pm
Place: Immigration Advisers Authority, 52 Symonds Street, Auckland
Attendees: MBIE –Catherine Albiston (Acting Registrar of Immigration Advisers), Jennifer Wheeler (Team Leader, Support), Simon Thomas (Compliance & Enforcement Team Leader), Lynda Byrne (Immigration Policy), Zoe Gilmore (Secretariat)

Bay of Plenty Polytechnic – David Lyon (Head of School, School of Business Studies) for 1-1:45pm agenda item only

Licensed Immigration Advisers – Toni Alexander (NZAMI), Tuariki Delamere, Richard Howard, Karen Justice (NZAIP), John Lawlor, Rachel Lishman, Jay Shadforth, Shinalda Wong
Apologies: MBIE – Wayne Levick (INZ, Northern Area Manager)

Licensed Immigration Advisers - Sanjeev Singh (via teleconference)

Employer Representative - Aussie Malcolm (Employer)

Consumer Representative – Janis McArdle (Office of Ethnic Affairs – National Operations Manager)

Discussion

Welcome and update since last meeting.

  1. Catherine Albiston gave updates on the IAA:
    1. Licensing:
      1. On top of workload
      2. Jin Yan (Jennie) Zhang licence cancelled following immigration convictions
      3. Potential for 40 upgrade applications to be lodged before Christmas as grand-parented provision for upgrade with client files closes on 31 December 2014.
    2. Complaints and offences:
      1. Closed 59 complaints since 1 July 2014; 25 sent to Tribunal and 34 closed without being referred to Tribunal (no grounds, trivial or inconsequential, or suggest using advisers own complaints procedure)
      2. IAA cannot get involved in mediation – this could be addressed in legislative review next year
      3. Closed 56 offence cases since 1 July 2014
      4. Laid charges following a significant investigation.

Discussion on consultation results and proposals for change

  1. Received over 200 responses to survey, held meetings in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington and held 12 teleconferences with offshore advisers – with mixed feedback.
  2. There is support for increasing licensing standards, but not for the package exactly as proposed.
  3. Qualification:
    1. Consultation feedback and IAA suggestions:
      1. There is very high demand for people wanting to do the qualification
      2. Support for setting a higher standard (extending qualification to a year diploma) and a lot of support for a supervised period following graduation
      3. Making a work placement mandatory or optional had an even split of opinion – there are issues with making a placement mandatory – if provisional licence is required following graduation, would mean even those who did not complete work placement would gain work experience under supervision
      4. Students would still be able to apply for a provisional licence after completing courses A and B so could be working towards completing two years on a provisional licence while completing the qualification.
    2. Reference group feedback:
      1. Course currently fitting too much into a short space of time
      2. Should consult experienced graduates when redeveloping course as those who have not completed the course cannot comment and neither can those graduates with no prior experience
      3. Reference group supported qualification proposal.  
  4. Licence type:
    1. Consultation feedback and IAA suggestions:
      1. Only 33% support for applying for a full licence following graduation
      2. Biggest concern with returning to provisional licence requirement is the lack of supervisors and some supervisors charging very high fees. Research into history of provisional licences shows that in 2012 70 new provisional licences were granted. Since inception provisional licences have been granted to people all over New Zealand and in 12 countries. This evidence, coupled with the new provisions in the Code of Conduct requiring supervisors to     charge fair and reasonable fees supports viability of returning to a provisional licence entry route
      3. Applicants would need to be made aware of the requirements of finding a supervisor in order to become licensed before they applied for a place on the course
      4. Under the current legislation, the IAA cannot put requirements on supervisors further than them holding a full licence
      5. Combining a provisional licence with the qualification will bolster both options
      6. The IAA has refused to upgrade provisional licence applicants to a full licence in the past – refusal can be made on competency
      7. Average time spent on a provisional licence to date has been 18 months
      8. The provisional licence requirement could not be retrospective – it would not impact on those advisers already licensed and anyone who graduated in July 2014 or December 2014, or part-time students graduating in July or December 2015 would need to be able to apply for a full licence.
    2. Reference group feedback:
      1. Anything that is going to improve the professionalism of the industry should be supported and having a provisional licence will signal to consumers that the adviser is newly licensed
      2. Reference group supported the provisional licence proposal.
  5. Fast-track for all renewals and inspection programme:
    1. Consultation feedback and IAA suggestions:
      1. More effort would be put into inspections programme which would be intelligence led with more onsite inspections
    2. Reference group feedback:
      1. Licensed advisers need to take responsibility of notifying the IAA of incompetent behaviour and unlicensed activity.
  6. Continuing Professional Development:
    1. Consultation feedback and IAA suggestions:
      1. Consultation showed support for CPD in general and in particular for active learning – hours required had divided opinion
      2. Catherine suggested that there would be three categories of CPD activities and that advisers would be required to participate in at least two to make up 20 hours of CPD. Activities are:
        1. Giving or receiving training
        2. Giving or receiving mentoring or coaching
        3. Participating in study groups
      3. Everything proposed involves meeting with other licensed advisers
      4. A lot of preparation would be required to make sure guidelines are clear before the new CPD requirements are implemented – probably later next year and the IAA would not start assessing new CPD requirements for a year after implementation.
    2. Reference group feedback:
      1. Although there was low support in the consultation feedback the reference group all agreed that mandatory CPD activities could be requested from time to time, particularly things such as the Code Workshop.
  7. Hoping to have ability to lodge licence applications online and fast-track renewals from April 2014.
  8. The proposals as a whole send a very strong message that the standards are being raised.

Next steps following agreement to changes

  1. David Lyon, Head of School, School of Business Studies, Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, joined the reference group for this agenda item.
  2. To launch diploma in February 2016, NZQA would need to have signed it off by 30 September 2015.
  3. Transition arrangements would be required for current students.
  4. Reference group made the following general comments about the content of the diploma:
    1. Need more “how to” rather than specific policy knowledge as policy constantly changes
    2. Need to teach how to assess clients at an initial consultation – what type and how many questions to ask
    3. More complex scenarios required – extra time provides opportunity to do end to end mock file scenarios
    4. Final exam could incorporate a complex case study with access to the Operations Manual
    5. Could start with basic understanding of the law, immigration law, role of the licensed immigration adviser, tools commonly used, importance of administrative law, and then move to more applied nature and practical examples/scenarios.
  5. A steering committee will be required, comprising industry experts. Committee would need to meet monthly from February to August 2015. IAA will send out request for expressions of interest. There would also be a requirement for experienced practitioners to develop the content of the course which would then be given to the committee for comment.
  6. Will also need a general reference group next year who could be consulted with as well.

Process for selecting 2015 reference group

  1. Martin Jenkins regime review advised that industry should have a more formal role in developing Code and Competency Standards – this will be looked at during legislative review next year.
  2. Reference group agreed that the IAA’s selection process should remain the same until legislative change is implemented.
  3. Reference group should suggest some of their own agenda items.

IAA Branding

  1. Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment is rolling out new coordinated branding to all areas. Reference group were shown proposed new branding for the IAA.
  2. Reference group agreed that for consumer protection the Trade Mark should not be changed in any way.
  3. Reference group also stressed importance that branding needs to be distinguishable from INZ’s.

Online application forms

  1. Aiming to have online licence application forms by April 2015.
  2. IAA needs to decide if applications are to be exclusively online, or if paper option should remain for a period of time (which would be an extra cost).
  3. Reference group advised that IAA should move to exclusively online – all licensed advisers should have competence and facilities to lodge licence applications online as they will need to lodge INZ applications exclusively online in the near future.

Wrap up and feedback

  1. Catherine thanked the members for their time and contribution to the reference group this year.
  2. Reference group feedback forms were distributed, completed and returned.

Meeting adjourned: 2.50pm