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Reference group minutes

 

Date: Thursday, 12 November 2015 10:15am – 2:30pm
Place: Immigration Advisers Authority, Level 2, 52 Symonds Street, Auckland
Attendees:

IAA – – Catherine Albiston (Registrar of Immigration Advisers), Philip Anderson (Technical 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), Amar Manchanda (Ambition Immigration), Allister Simpson (Endeavour Immigration), Carina Ford (Carina Ford Immigration Lawyers), Zeenat Afiz (Fragomen), Ann-Maree Duxfield (University of Auckland), Lisa Seaborn (Immigration Management)

INZ – Christine McGaughey (Area Manager, INZ Henderson)

Apologies: Wiebe Herder (Woburn International), Lucy He (TDA Immigration), Simon Moore (M&C Consulting Ltd t/a e-Migration NZ South Island)

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
      2. Overview of the Graduate Diploma;
      3. IAA Online and new Authority look;
      4. Open Forum and Feedback.
  2. Authority update
    1. Work on the Act review has not progressed since the last meeting, so we do not have anything further to discuss regarding the Act review at this meeting.
    2. Catherine thanked advisers for their feedback on the CPD and Supervision Toolkits which are both now live on the website.
    3. The Graduate Diploma has been approved by Catherine and opened for enrolment in October, detailed material is now being developed.
    4. TTMRA matters
      1. Significant number of initial applications from MARA agents received due to the introduction of supervision requirements from 26 November 2015.
      2. The transitional CPD requirements for TTMRA advisers mean they can rely on their OMARA CPD to renew between 26 November 2015 and 25 November 2016.
      3. Catherine is planning to hold a webinar in 2016 for newly licensed MARA agents regarding the requirements of our code of conduct and competency standards.
    5. Group Comments

    6. These newly licensed TTMRA advisers may not give advice immediately and a large number of them may not renew next year.
    7. There were concerns that some advisers may simply let their licences lapse and apply for a new one to circumvent the requirement of completing 20 hours of CPD, or avoid to be inspected.
    IAA Comments

    1. MARA agents are only able to apply for a licence via the TTMRA process if they are applying for a licence for the first time. If they wish to renew their licence, they must renew via the same two streams available to NZ advisers – fast-track or inspection.
    2. If they let their licence lapse and have previously been selected to go through the inspection renewal stream, when they reapply, they would be required to produce the requested client file.
  3. Overview of the Graduate Diploma
    1. The Bay of Plenty Polytechnic has a new webpage for the Graduate Diploma regarding enrolment, entry criteria, course structure etc.
    2. Course 1 begins with the role of an adviser and what it means to be a professional.
    3. Course 2 starts with introduction to the law and the NZ visa system, how to navigate the operations manual.
    4. Course 3 is an introduction to temporary entry applications and will include case studies.
    5. Course 4 is an introduction to residence applications and will include case studies.
    6. Course 5 will review the code of conduct and professional responsibilities in depth including issues with unlicensed staff, supervision and case studies.
    7. Course 6 will be focused on more complex matters: PPIs, waivers and special directions, reconsideration, complaints, appeals, refugee and protection and business. There will be case studies throughout.
    8. Course 7 and 8 will be taught concurrently and both are interactive.
    9. Course 7 will involve a series of complex case studies and mock scenarios and require students to prepare applications and assemble the full client file. Students will also be asked to reflect on the issues they have encountered.
    10. Course 8 may be undertaken as a work placement or run by the Polytechnic and involves reflecting on a weekly basis on either real-life situations or scenarios.
    11. At this point there is an agreement with the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic that there will be no more than 150 graduates each year and there are 25 industry places available in each semester.
  4. IAA Online and new Authority image
    1. New Authority website to go live on 26 November 2015 with a new look to coincide with the new Competency Standards 2015 and new online services.
    2. The register search function will be unchanged.
    3. There will be more information displayed on the homepage.
    4. The content on the “For Migrant” page will remain relatively similar.
    5. There is a new section “Do I need a licence?” and a new section “Becoming a licensed adviser”.
    6. All services for licensed advisers are available under “For advisers”.
    7. Paper forms will not be available to download on the website, they will be available on request if a person is having trouble completing an online application.
    8. Once the application has been submitted, it can be viewed in the ‘application history’ tab. Advisers will also be able to check status of their online application there.
    9. The online CPD plan and record is organised by licensing period, and can be printed. Advisers can choose to use the online CPD plan and record, or maintain their own records.
    10. Advisers will be able to view their invoices online and pay online.
    11. The licensing toolkit has full instructions on how to complete forms.
    12. The Authority showed the Group the new online services and took them through a mock application

    13. Group Comments

    14. Some members of the group considered it unnecessary to send all licensed advisers a new wallet card in December and that it would be acceptable to replace them as advisers renewed their licences throughout the year.
    15. There was suggestion to put ‘New Zealand’ on the certificate and website.The design and online function are user-friendly and overall met the expectations of the group.
  5. Open forum and Feedback

    Group Comment
    1. Regarding the Tribunal: It was suggested that there should be another Tribunal member to assist the Chair, ideally industry could be involved. It was suggested that the database of Tribunal decisions needs to be improved as at the moment this is inadequate and difficult to keep track of decisions.

    2. Authority Response

    3. Comments noted. The database issues have been raised with the Ministry of Justice before. One attempt by the Authority to better inform advisers about decisions is via the Code of Conduct Toolkit which includes examples of decisions alongside each Code provision. This has not been updated since 2014. There is plan to update it in 2016.

    4. Authority Response

    5. It should always be ensured that the adviser’s own complaint process (OCP) has been used prior to accepting a complaint.

    6. Authority Response

    7. Addressing complaints at the lowest possible level has been the approach adopted by the Authority since 2014, and this has seen the proportion of complaints referred to the Tribunal reduced.
    8. However, the Authority is limited in what it can do as it is restricted by the Act provisions which will be looked at in the Act review – perhaps the Authority could have greater discretion in rejecting complaint rather than rejecting on either no grounds or ground(s) being trivial and inconsequential. Another way to deal with complaints without going to the Tribunal being explored in the Act review is giving the Authority power to put conditions on licences.
    9. The Authority always checks to see if complainants have used adviser’s OCP before accepting a complaint, and we do often refer complainants to the OCP at an early stage. However, in some circumstances, referring to the OCP may not be appropriate and it is at the discretion of the Registrar in discussion with a panel to decide on how to proceed.

    10. Group Comment

    11. There could perhaps be a review into the diversity in culture and location of complainants as some cultures may be more inclined to make a complaint when things go wrong, and vice versa.

    12. Authority Response

    13. There is no plan to conduct such a review, however the impression is that the Authority does receive complaints from a diverse range of backgrounds and locations.

    14. Group Comment

    15. There are concerns regarding the conduct of offshore unlicensed education agents. There are also concerns about the quality of education that overseas students are receiving in New Zealand, and that it is a short-sighted approach to revenue earning at the present, ignoring the long-term damage in reputation it creates.
    16. Not all people using unlicensed adviser are victims; some seek out unethical advisers as they may wish to get around policy requirements they don’t meet.

    17. Authority Response

    18. The Authority deals with offshore unlicensed individuals by sending them waring letters, and if possible speaking to them. Charges can be laid in some cases where a person may spend some time in New Zealand. Unfortunately, many individuals operate solely offshore.
    19. This year, the Authority has run a communications campaign approaching all universities and polytechnics to educate them about what their unlicensed staff are able to do.

    20. Feedback on the Reference Group

    21. Regarding the number of meetings each year: This is the first time there have been five meetings in a year. In the past there have always been three or four. Group member expressed support for keeping five meetings, but possibly reducing their length depending on the number of topics to be discussed.
    22. The group agreed that it has been valuable and useful this year particularly with regards to supervision and CPD.
    23. The Authority values industry input, and advisers can always email the Authority if they have any comments or suggestions