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Reference group minutes

 

Date: Thursday, 9 July 2015 10:15am – 3:00pm
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)

Licensed Immigration Advisers – June Ranson (Woburn International)(NZAMI representative), Karen Justice (Ernst & Young)  (NZAIP representative), Ann-Maree Duxfield (University of Auckland), Wiebe Herder (Woburn International), Lucy He (TDA Immigration), Amar Manchanda (Ambition Immigration), Allister Simpson (Endeavour Immigration), Lisa Seaborn (Immigration Management)

Apologies: Simon Moore (M&C Consulting Ltd t/a e-Migration NZ South Island), Zeenat Afiz (Fragomen), Carina Ford (Carina Ford Immigration Lawyers), Wayne Levick (Area Manager, INZ Henderson Branch)

Discussion

  1. Welcome
    1. Catherine Albiston, Registrar of Immigration Advisers, welcomed members of the group.
    2. The group had no changes to the proposed agenda:
      1. Authority update (past financial year; Act review update; adviser survey results)
      2. Presentation on IAA Online;
      3. Discussion on supervision toolkit;
      4. Discussion on new CPD requirements and toolkit;
      5. Open session.
  2. Authority update
      1. During the 2014 - 2015 financial year, the Authority has performed well against its internal targets in both the licensing and investigation space:
        1. 96% of new applications were processed in 20 working days (target: 90%) and 91% in 15 working days;
        2. 98% of fast-track renewal applications were processed within 10 working days (target 90%) and 91% in 5 working days;
        3. All 106 ‘backlog complaints’ (those which were received prior to 1 July 2014) were closed;
        4. 141 complaints were closed in total, with 16 on hand at 1 July 2015 (106 at same point last year)
        5. Of the 106 backlog complaints closed, 66 were referred to the Tribunal, the remaining 40 were closed by the Authority.  Similarly, of the 35 new complaints closed, 22 were referred to the Tribunal and 13 were closed by the Authority. This shows that close to 40 percent of complaints have been closed by the Authority over the last year.
        6. 98 potential offences were investigated and closed;
        7. At 1 July 2015 there were 778 licensed advisers of which 74% (576) were located in New Zealand. The number of New Zealand based advisers has grown over the last year with the number of offshore advisers remaining roughly the same;
        8. 32% (249) of current licensed advisers have completed the Graduate Certificate and 16% (128) are licensed through the TTMRA.
      2. All the Authority’s targets for the new financial year have been increased as reported in the July newsletter.
      3. Immigration Advisers Licensing Act review update:
        1. The terms of reference for the Act review are currently being finalised and will be published
        2. The Act review team will attend the September reference group meeting to discuss their work
        3. Consultation with advisers is likely to take place before Christmas;   
        4. The scope of the review includes but is not limited to the findings of the Martin Jenkins review;
      4. The licensed immigration advisers satisfaction survey results have been made available;
        1. In total 293 responses were received;
        2. 67% of advisers were satisfied or very satisfied with their recent interactions with the Authority; 19% were neutral; 13% were dissatisfied;
        3. 74% agreed that licensing has improved the perception of New Zealand as a migrant destination;
        4. 85% agreed that licensing has added value to the New Zealand immigration industry.
  3. IAA Online Presentation
      1. From 1 July 2015, fast-track renewals have been made available to all advisers except those who have been selected for inspection;
      2. Soon advisers will be able to lodge fast-track applications online including payment and update their details;
      3. Simon Wagg, Senior e-Business Advisor demonstrated the online portal for advisers including how to lodge a fast-track renewal and how to update details
        1. Advisers will be able to login on the IAA website via RealMe (using the same RealMe login as they do for INZ Online);
        2. An activation code will be sent to advisers to login for the first time;
        3. Once the activation code has been entered and confirmed, advisers will be taken to their “Home” page;
        4. Advisers will be able to make changes to most of their personal details and those published on the register will be updated instantly once changes have been saved;
        5. Changes to legal name and supervisor change will need to be approved by the Authority;
        6. Changes made to IAA information held will not change information held on the adviser’s RealMe profile;
        7. Once changes are saved, a PFD record is created that advisers can access at any time;
        8. Advisers whose licences are due to expire in the next two months and are eligible for fast-track renewal will be able to complete a fast-track renewal online;
        9. Standard RealMe time-out applies (15 minutes);
        10. Advisers are able to upload their photo, but this will only be required every three years;
        11. A separate page will appear when advisers are ready to make payment, a message will be appear on screen when the application is completed. Where there are no issues with the application, and both the fee and levy are paid, the application will be approved automatically and the register updated;
        12. Advisers who have ticked yes to at least one of questions 8 to 15 in the fitness section will pay application fee first, their licence status on the register will be updated to ‘renewal in progress’, and once fitness is approved by the Authority, they will be notified to pay the levy as currently happens;
        13. Invoices and/or receipts can be accessed and downloaded;
      4. Our MBIE contact centre staff are familiar with RealMe and will be available to resolve login issues;
      5. It is scheduled for reference group advisers to test the system in the week of the 20th August
  4. Group comments
      1. Positive feedback from advisers and acknowledgement of the work that has gone into the project;
      2. Prior to INZ’s ‘apply on behalf’ went live, INZ emailed advisers with a link to a video demonstration, something similar would be helpful from the Authority;
      3. The biggest issue noted with INZ Online was the system not copying with large document uploads. IAA response - This should not be an issue for fast-track renewal which generally doesn’t require uploads other than a photo. It may be an issue when inspections renewals go live later in the year and will need to be born in mind.
      4. There were concerns that some advisers may falsely declare that they have no fitness issues. IAA response – A false declaration is a criminal offence and a serious matter. If found it is ground for cancellation of licence and prosecution. The form needs to clearly communicate this;
      5. Concern was raised that offshore advisers are not being inspected. IAA response – most inspections take place on the papers by requiring specific client files to be provided and therefore advisers are treated the same way onshore and offshore. The Authority can refuse or cascade (to provisional) a licence, as well as initiating an own motion complaint equally for on and offshore advisers. Offshore advisers also get treated the same way when a complaint is referred to the Tribunal. Most complaints are heard on the papers and the Tribunal can require an offshore adviser to attend an oral hearing.
      6. Concerns were raised about the Authority’s effectiveness to deal with unlicensed individuals offshore.  Some group members raised the view that licensed advisers should be New Zealand based only. IAA response - People providing advice offshore when neither licensed nor exempt are being educated and formally warned, the Authority can also lay charges so if they do return to New Zealand they will be arrested on arrival. The issue of requiring advisers to be New Zealand-based could be raised in the Act review
  5. Supervision Toolkit and Guidelines
  6. IAA intros
      1. There will be about 30 graduates in December 2015 who will require supervision. The Authority has developed the first draft of a Supervision Toolkit as discussed at last reference group meeting and is inviting feedback from the reference group;
  7. Group comments
      1. Advisers should need to be qualified first to become supervisors. IAA response - This is limited by the current Act, the Authority simply does not have the power to enforce this requirement. We can create the expectation through the supervision toolkit that supervisors need to be experienced;
      2. Concern was expressed about some advisers taking advantage of the situation. IAA response – provisional licence holders can complaint to the Authority about their supervisors and vice versa. Roles and responsibilities of the provisional licence holder and supervisor are now in the Code of Conduct 2014. Clients can also complain if they believe they did not get good advice and their adviser did not receive proper supervision;
      3. It was agreed that the templates in the toolkit were helpful but the draft could be improved to better set clearer expectations for supervision.
  8. Group comments
      1. As long as graduates complete the Graduate Diploma and the two-year supervision, they are eligible to apply for a full licence – there will not be an upgrade assessment;
      2. Supervisors and their supervision records can be inspected, it is vital that both parties keep good records;
      3. If supervisors are not satisfied that the provisional licence holder is giving good advice, they can terminate the agreement which would stop the provisional licence holder from giving advice until another supervision agreement is approved. They can also make a complaint;
      4. Supervisors are required to charge fair and reasonable fees
      5. The Authority can not generically enforce a maximum number of provisional licence holders one person can supervise but may be able to refuse a supervision agreement on a case-by-case basis;
      6. IAA action: Supervision Toolkit to be revised and presented back to reference group in September
  9. Discussion on New CPD requirement and Toolkit
  10. IAA intro
      1. New Competency Standard 7 circulated. December 2014 newsletter article on CPD circulated which discussed the three categories of acceptable activities.
      2. Advisers will still be responsible for determining what their learning needs are, but these need to be active and advisers will be required to make a CPD plan;
      3. The new CPD requirements will come into effect on 26 November 2015. We need to discuss and agree on what should be included in CPD guidelines.
      4. The acceptable activities consulted on last year and supported by advisers were at least two of the following three activities:
        1. giving or receiving training
        2. giving or receiving coaching or mentoring, and
        3. study groups;
      5. The Authority recognises values in many self-directed learning activities, and that advisers can learn in different ways. However, these are often part of advisers’ daily work and the new competency standard is to focus on interactive activities that can be recorded and verified;
      6. The new requirements will be introduced on 26 November 2015 but advisers will not be expected to have completed the full requirements until they have completed a full year of licensing after this date. During the first year the Authority will take an educative approach.
    1. Group comments
      1. Firstly, the group reiterated support for the new Competency Standard 7 and the requirements as consulted on and reported in the December newsletter.
      2. There was support for the focus on active learning and acknowledged that self-directed learning is still important but is part of an adviser’s day to day work;
      3. There was some discussion as to whether completing a formal training course for more than 20 hours should be sufficient on its own but ultimately the group supported the requirement for an adviser to undertake an additional activity which would either be related to mentoring/supervision or a study group;
      4. There are currently formalised cell groups organised by the NZAMI which have set agendas, facilitators, and sign-off for verification purposes. These types of activities would be acceptable as a study group;
      5. A presentation at relevant events should be considered as giving training as it involves some level of research;
      6. It was recommended that the guidelines stipulate that study groups should consist a minimum of 3 advisers per group and that it writing an article is an acceptable activity under giving training
      7. There was discussion on what should be acceptable evidence of attendance. It was agreed that advisers should not have to get a supporting signature from someone else at the event and that an agenda or email confirmation of attendance at an event should suffice. Advisers should be able to upload their CPD records at any time during the year.
      8. Overall, there was strong support for diversity in learning and not ‘watering it down’.
    2. IAA action point: to develop CPD Toolkit for next reference group meeting
      Group comments
      1. It was agreed that it is vital to emphasise on a strong ethical practice amongst advisers.
      2. Managing client expectations and relationships should be covered, possibly early on
      3. Client engagement should be taught prior to entering in to written agreement with clients.
      4. Day 6 should move to end and not interrupt the Code material.
      5. Client engagement, fees, and client funds warrant a day each.
      6. It is important students know what a client file is, and how to keep good records both on paper and electronically.
      7. The course as a whole should be teaching how to maintain a good client file and they should be assessed on this.
      8. Another suggestion for an activity was to get students to write a front page for their website which is Code compliant ( a more in-depth version of activity suggested in Course 1)