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Reference group minutes

 

Date: Thursday, 12 March 2015 10:15am – 3:15pm
Place: Immigration Advisers Authority, Level 2, 52 Symonds Street, Auckland
Attendees: IAA – Catherine Albiston (Registrar of Immigration Advisers), Philip Anderson (Occupational Licensing Team Leader), Alexandra Simpson (Senior Technical Advisor), Erica Su (Senior Business Administrator) (Minute-taker)

INZ – Wayne Levick (Area Manager, Henderson)

Licensed Immigration Advisers – June Ranson (Woburn International) (NZAMI representative), Karen Justice (Ernst & Young)  (NZAIP representative), Zeenat Afiz (Fragomen), Ann-Maree Duxfield (University of Auckland), Wiebe Herder (Woburn International), Lucy He (TDA Immigration), Amar Manchanda (Ambition Immigration), Carina Ford (Carina Ford Immigration Lawyers) (via teleconference), Allister Simpson (Endeavour Immigration), Lisa Seaborn (Immigration Management)
Apologies: None

Discussion

  1. Welcome
    1. Catherine Albiston, Registrar of Immigration Advisers, welcomed the new 2015 reference group and thanked everyone for volunteering.
    2. The purpose of the reference group for advisers to raise issues for discussion, for the Registrar to hear concerns and to facilitate discussion on these issues among advisers.
    3. The agenda:
      1. Open forum for members to raise issues for discussion either today or during the year
      2. Update / overview of licensing standards changes and implementation plan including IAA online, fast-track renewals, and changes to CPD
      3. Discussion on development of Graduate Diploma
  2. Open forum
    1. Reference group members raised the following items for discussion:
      1. Concern regarding impact of new business policies (to be raised in alternative forum).
      2. Concern regarding offshore unlicensed activity, particularly among travel agents/ desks, education agents and large multinational firms.
        The Authority relies on people coming forward to make complaints. Vast majority of complaints heard by the Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal (the Tribunal) and complaints regarding unlicensed activity have been brought by consumers. The Authority does not receive as many complaints regarding offshore unlicensed activity as onshore.
        The Authority uses a number of tools such as warning letters, communications by telephone and emails. The level of evidence often does not reach the threshold required for court action. The Authority is also limited in what it can do offshore in terms of enforcement but looks to educate and spread the message.
        Offshore INZ branches can also refer complaints to the Authority if unlicensed activities are suspected, and refuse to deal with unlicensed advisers or decline applications lodged by these individuals.
        There appears to be uncertainty regarding what immigration advice is and what can legally be done without a licence particularly among travel agents and large companies. The definition of advice may be reviewed in the review of the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007 (the Act review) to give greater clarity regarding the boundary between providing publicly available information and advice.
        Topic to be discussed further at a later reference group meeting
      3. Concern regarding migrant exploitation in their employment environment, fear of speaking out and what to do about it. To be discussed at later reference group meeting.
      4. Interest in discussing development of Graduate Diploma (on agenda for today).
      5. Annual renewal and the cost of licensing are too high for some advisers (an issue for the Act review, to be discussed at later meeting).
      6. There appears to be some inaccuracies in INZ recording who the individual adviser is when lodging an application handled by multi-adviser firm. This has implications for the information IAA has available about a particular adviser. (INZ to follow up).
      7. Does the Authority penalise advisers with low volume of applications during the renewal process? IAA response: No. A person is assessed according to the competency standards, regardless of the volume of applications they have submitted to INZ.
      8. What standards we are setting for licensed advisers at entry level and ongoing. How to we address the variance in the standards of graduates? The importance of ongoing ethics training (Australian lawyers are required to do it annually). (To be discussed as part of ongoing discussion regarding the Diploma development and CPD).
      9. How to improve the awareness of licensing, particularly offshore. (To be discussed at a later meeting).
      10. Issues relating to the introduction of mandatory supervision. Providing guidelines regarding what to look for in a supervision arrangement. CPD to be available for supervisors on how to be a good supervisor / mentor. Suggestion made that NZAMI and NZAIP consider offering such CPD. (Issues to be discussed today and ongoing during the year).
      11. IAA: The IALA Act review is due to be progressed this year, including for example, consideration of introducing alternative disputes resolution and a wider range of enforcement tools. (To be discussed at a later meeting).
      12. IAA: Change at the Authority. Catherine provided an overview of the change process that occurred in late 2014. There are now 10 Auckland based staff and three Wellington based team leaders.
  3. Licensing standards changes / IAA Online
    1. The project ‘IAA Online’ will be rolled out in stages in 2015 to allow advisers to lodge applications and change their details online.
    2. The first online rollout will be fast-track renewals. Advisers will generally qualify for the current fast-track renewal process unless they are selected for inspection. Those who qualify for fast-track will be able to lodge their applications online.
    3. Later in the year other forms will be available online including initial applications and inspection renewals. These will be introduced when the new competency standards come into force, including the new CPD requirements. There will be an ability for advisers to log their CPD online.
    4. The Graduate Certificate is currently being taught and the July 2015 intake will be its last for full time students; it will continue to be taught for part time students until the end of 2016 and then will no longer be offered.
  4. The development of the Graduate Diploma and discussion
    1. The Bay of Plenty Polytechnic will be developing the new Graduate Diploma in New Zealand Immigration Advice for delivery from 2016. They are required to get NZQA approval for the new qualification and NZQA will require the Authority to endorse the Diploma before it can be approved. 
    2. A qualification steering group has been set up. The first meeting was conducted on 10 March 2015 and the group provided a clear steer to the Polytechnic that the new Diploma should include a lot more practical and complex scenarios for the students to work off.
    3. Reference group members made the following comments regarding content:
      1. There was general agreement amongst the group with the views expressed by the Steering Group, that the qualification should be much more practical and include realistic scenarios that teach students to how to exercise their judgement.
      2. Some suggested that there was not enough coverage of temporary visas and residence visas in the current Graduate Certificate, and should be bolstered in the new diploma.
      3. It needs to include a focus on interviewing clients generally and interviewing to assess eligibility and preparing for interviews in more depth than the Certificate.
      4. It needs to cover how to, and the importance of, recording eligibility assessments in writing in more depth than the Certificate.
      5. It needs to cover how to write submissions, PPI letter responses to INZ in more depth than the Certificate.
      6. The length of time spent on a topic should not be proportionate to the length of the INZ policy on it, but the amount of time an adviser will spend working in this area.
      7. It should cover how to be organised while managing a high caseload and competing INZ deadlines.
      8. It should cover how to work with an interpreter which can be very challenging for people who haven’t done it before (in more depth than the Certificate).
      9. Scenarios at the more complex end should have multiple possible options, with the student figuring out and commenting on the pros and cons of each one.
      10. Support for the idea that a student builds the client file throughout the year. The group suggested that a student be given a family for the year, and as different topics are taught, different things happen to the family that they have to respond to, eg mum gets sick / has a baby, son wants to go to university, partner dies, etc, grandparents / uncle/ aunts etc want to come.
    4. Reference group members made the following comments regarding structure:
      1. Basics of refugee, deportation, appeals etc need to be mandatory for everyone, but detail could be taken out of first half of year and electives created in second half for more depth.
      2. Alternative electives need to be available for people who don’t want to do refugee/ business / appeals  etc, so you could have electives for more in depth Skilled Migrant Category or Work to Residence for example.
      3. Support for in depth Code course up front including looking at Tribunal decisions.
      4. Support for sequential learning in first half.
    5. Reference group members made the following comments regarding when a person should be able to apply for a provisional licence:
      1. The group discussed this at some length and in the end agreed that if a person was enrolled and had completed the introductory material plus the Code of Conduct course, they should be able to apply for a provisional licence to allow them to study and work at the same time if they / their employer wanted.
  5. Supervision
    1. Students enrolling in July 2015 will be required to hold a provisional licence for two years before they may apply for a full licence.
    2. The Authority would like to develop additional guidelines regarding supervision with input from the reference group in anticipation of the new requirements being introduced.
    3. Advisers expressed a high willingness to undertake supervision in the 2014 consultation and a strong desire to require supervision as part of the licensing requirements.
    4. The Authority is keen to develop guidelines that stress the importance of students approaching prospective supervisors in a professional way, with a CV and cover letter, and for advisers to treat applications as they would applicants for a job – not to be overwhelmed by requests but to consider it an opportunity to select a person that best suits them.
    5. Some concern was expressed about exposure to an adviser’s business - It is up to supervisors to determine how much exposure to their own business they wish to allow for their supervisees.
    6. There was some discussion regarding remote supervision with one member expressing concern about it and another sharing their experience of how it worked well.
    7. It was suggested that the Polytechnic invite licensed advisers to a meet and greet with graduates at the graduation ceremony so that prospective employers / supervisors and graduates could talk face to face.
    8. It was noted that supervision will be explicitly recognised as an active CPD activity under the new CPD requirements to be implemented later in 2015.
    9. This topic will be discussed further at later reference group meeting.