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Reference group minutes

 

Date: Thursday, 10 September 2015 10:15am – 3:00pm
Place: Immigration Advisers Authority, Level 2, 52 Symonds Street, Auckland
Attendees:

IAA – Catherine Albiston (Registrar of Immigration Advisers), Alexandra Simpson (Senior Technical Advisor), Erica Su (Senior Business Administrator) (Minute-taker)

Licensed Immigration Advisers – Simon Moore (M&C Consulting Ltd t/a e-Migration NZ South Island) (NZAMI representative), Karen Justice (Ernst & Young)  (NZAIP representative), Wiebe Herder (Woburn International), Lucy He (TDA Immigration), Amar Manchanda (Ambition Immigration), Allister Simpson (Endeavour Immigration), Carina Ford (Carina Ford Immigration Lawyers), Zeenat Afiz (Fragomen)

Apologies: Ann-Maree Duxfield (University of Auckland), June Ranson (Woburn International), Lisa Seaborn (Immigration Management)

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 (IAA Online, migrant survey, qualification development)
      2. Open forum
      3. CPD requirements and toolkit
      4. Supervision Toolkit
      5. Immigration Advisers Licensing Act Review.
  2. Authority update
    1. The annual migrant survey results have been very positive with more than eight out of 10 migrants surveyed satisfied with the quality of service they received from their licensed immigration adviser.
    2. The Authority made a media release about the migrant survey results.
    3. The IAA Online portal went live and positive feedback has been received:
      1. Activation codes have been sent to all advisers
      2. More than 25 advisers have made their fast-track applications online
      3. More than 80 advisers have changed their details online.
    4. IAA Online Phase 4 to roll out on 26 November 2015 to include online lodgement of initial, TTMRA, and inspection renewal applications.
    5. The development of the Graduate Diploma is going well:
      1. The course has been approved by the NZQA
      2. The Authority is working with the Steering Group and the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic to finalise more detailed plans for each of the 9 courses
      3. The programme of study is scheduled to be approved by the Registrar in October, the Polytechnic is aiming to open enrolment on 1 November 2015
      4. The programme of study will be published once it is approved.
  3. Open forum
    1. INZ related discussions
      1. Members noted that it would be useful to continue to have INZ present at these meetings, particularly for relevant agenda items such as CPD.
      2. There was some feedback that the content of some of the INZ seminars was not particularly useful to licensed advisers.
      3. Concern was raised that INZ does not use the address provided on the application form but the one in the system which is a problem for people who work for multiple businesses.
      4. Concern was raised that the INZ contact centre discourages migrants from using licensed advisers. The view was that the message they should be giving should be neutral eg “it is your choice if you wish to use an adviser or not”.
      5. Concern was raised about INZ dealing with employers who are lodging multiple applications with varying conditions and who are clearly providing immigration advice.
    2. Concern was raised with the length of time it takes for licence certificates and wallet cards to be sent.
    3. TTMRA matters
      1. Two changes are being introduced in November - The Authority will require first-time TTMRA applicants to hold a provisional licence for two years before they can obtain a full licence. Once licensed with the IAA, MARA agents will be required to renew their licence by completing our usual renewal processes (fast-track and inspection). This will mean they are required to meet the IAA’s CPD requirements. There was general support from the group for these changes.
      2. If relevant legislation is passed in Australia, Australian lawyers will no longer be required to be registered with OMARA. These people will be able to continue to renew their existing licence with the IAA.
    4. It was suggested that the register should publish the languages advisers can speak. This would require the Authority to undertake some kind of verification which could be problematic and outside the Authority’s scope.
  4. CPD requirements and Toolkit
    1. The Authority noted that it would consult with all licensed advisers in addition to the reference group.
    2. The new requirements would be phased in with the Authority taking an educative approach in the first year.
    3. The purpose of the CPD plan is to encourage advisers to think about their own learning needs and may be revised anytime throughout the year.
    4. On inspection, advisers will be asked to present their plan and record for the last 12 months, rather than the next 12 months.
    5. Advisers will have the ability to log their CPD online, though this is not mandatory. The Authority will only review the records at renewal if an adviser has been selected for inspection.
    6. The inclusion of mandatory activities in competency standards 7.2 is to allow the Authority to require them. Currently there are no mandatory requirements.
    7. The two major shifts are introducing the requirement to have a plan and removing the ability to count self-directed learning.

    Group comments
      1. It isn’t clear in the Toolkit that you don’t have to submit a plan for the 12 months in advance.
      2. Some advisers may be hesitant to log their CPD online.
      3. CPD should be flexible and achievable. Concerns were raised that the requirement to complete two out of the three CPD types each year was too restrictive. For example, experienced advisers may not find being in study groups very helpful. It was suggested that study groups need to be widened to include industry boards or consultation, or that giving or receiving training should be separated into two categories.
      4. It was also suggested that a list of acceptable activities should be listed, rather than activity types – similar to the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants guideline for CPD.
      5. Currently, giving or receiving training appears to exclusively refer to supervision, which was not the intention.
      6. It should be clear what is a requirement and what is a suggestion or guidance.
      7. Overall, the Toolkit met the expectations of the group.

      8. Action point: the Authority will revise the Toolkit based on the feedback and circulate for consultation shortly
  5. Supervision Toolkit and Guidelines
    IAA intro
      1. Following the last meeting, the Authority has revised the first draft of a Supervision Toolkit now presented for further feedback.

    Group comments
      1. The Toolkit is very clear on what the Authority’s expectations are, so supervisors and graduates know exactly what they are to do.
      2. Including an optional training log is useful and not too complex
  6. Act Review
    1. The Immigration Policy team is leading the review of the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act.
    2. Some topics currently under review were discussed.
    3. Supervision
      1. Who may be a supervisor? Some members of the group would prefer a more prescriptive approach in setting a minimum number of years
    4. Conditions on licences / Discretion regarding complaints
      1. At licence renewal there could be the ability to place conditions on licences (in addition to the current tools of refusal, cascading a licence from full to provisional, and educating the adviser). Similarly, conditions could be used to help manage complaints without referral to the Tribunal.
      2. The Group were cautiously supportive of these suggestions if they assisted in dealing with matters at the lowest level possible. It was agreed that an alternative dispute resolution process is needed and that referring complaints to the Tribunal should be the last resort as it is costly, stressful and time-consuming.
    5. How the industry can be involved
      1. There was not strong support for the idea that something similar to the reference group be formalised as a statutory board in the Act. Concerns included the cost of maintaining it, lack of flexibility once it is agreed in statute and no strong view as to what value it would add.
    6. Definition of immigration advice
      1. Concerns were raised regarding the definition and how to manage unlicensed staff providing immigration advice.
      2. The group supported clarifying that advice means tailoring information to an individual’s circumstances.
    7. Offshore adviser exemption
      1. Martin Jenkins recommended that we should remove the offence provision for advice provided offshore. There is not general support internally for this proposal and the group agreed.
    8. Offshore student visa exemption
      1. The Authority understands advisers’ concerns on this topic and their general view that the exemption should go.
    9. Inspection outside of renewal and complaint
      1. Currently the inspection powers can only be used at renewal and on complaint. If inspection could be used at other times, it would make it easier for the Authority to conduct multiple inspections when visiting locations outside of Auckland.
    10. Appeal right on Tribunal decisions
      1. Consideration is being given to broadening the right of appeal against the Tribunal’s sanction decisions to include the decision to uphold a complaint. The group supported this suggestion.
    11. Stand-down period
      1. There are currently two stand-down periods in the Act, first, warranted INZ officers require a 12-month stand-down period before they can become licensed; second, INZ officers are not able to work for the Authority for a period of two years.
      2. The first sometimes creates problems for companies wishing to recruit new advisers. The second has created problems for the Authority wishing to hire staff with good immigration knowledge. However, the group generally supported the stand-down periods, particularly the second one, on the basis that it is important that the Authority is seen to be independent from Immigration New Zealand.
  7. Next meeting
    1. No new topics raised for discussion by the group.
    2. CPD toolkit to be revised and put out for consultation.
    3. Supervision toolkit to be published.
    4. Next meeting we will look at a more detailed outline of the Graduate Diploma, walk through the next phase of IAA Online, and the Act review;
    5. The next and final meeting of the year will be on 12 November 2015.