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Reference group minutes

Date: Wednesday 26 July 2017, 10:15am – 3pm
Place: Immigration Advisers Authority, Level 2, 52 Symonds Street, Auckland
Attendees:

Licensed Immigration Advisers – Nassim Lalehzari (Working International, Auckland), Tim Malcolm (A1 Immigration, Auckland), Sally Lisle (Fragomen, Auckland),Matthew Fistonich (NZAIP) ( Ernst & Young Ltd., Wellington),  Fahim Gul (Success Global, Wellington), Arun Jacob (AJV Services, Hamilton), Matthew Gibbons (NZAMI) (Into NZ, Hamilton), Vinit Joshi (Astro Business, Brisbane) and Fleur Gray (INZ).

IAA – Catherine Albiston (Registrar of Immigration Advisers Authority) (Chair), Sara Kaur (Senior Business Administrator) (Minute- taker).

Apologies: Philip Anderson (Technical Team Leader, IAA), Clive Jones (ENZ) Wellington, Carol Wright (Greenstone Global, Hamilton), Paola Neilson Sanchez (Neilson Immigration Consultants), Jade Reid (INZ).

Discussion

  1. Welcome
    1. Catherine Albiston, Registrar of the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA), welcomed the reference group members and noted the apologies.
    2. The agenda:
      1. Authority update.
      2. Offshore update from visiting offshore adviser (Vinit).
      3. Update on supervision and proposed changes.
      4. Discussion on continuing professional development.
      5. Open forum.
  2. Authority Update
    1. Catherine reported on numbers from the 2016/17 year (1 July 2016 – 30 June 2017) as follows.

    Licensing:

    1. We completed 148 initial licence applications, compared to 154 in the year before.
    2. We completed just under 700 fast track renewal applications.
    3. We completed 193 inspection renewal applications.
    4. Catherine noted that there may possibly be a drop in initial applications this year due to the shift from the Graduate Certificate to the Graduate Diploma. Some concern was expressed that there may not be enough graduates coming through to meet demand.
    5. A member suggested that it would be interesting for the IAA to undertake an analysis of the nationality of advisers who let their licence expire to see if it corresponds to a change in the related market.

    Investigations:

    1. We received 75 complaints about licensed advisers, and completed 61.
    2. Of the 61 complaints completed, 52 per cent were closed by the IAA and 48 per cent were referred to the Tribunal.[Note, figures corrected post meeting]
    3. We completed 85 offence investigations. Most were closed with a warning; a small number have had charges laid or they are in the process of getting laid.

    Supervision:

    1. Of the 148 provisional licence holders (number at early June 2017):
      • 53 had completed half an approved qualification.
      • 75 had fully completed an approved qualification.
      • 14 were TTMRA.
      • 6 had not completed an approved qualification.
      • 100 were under distance supervision (not in the same office).

    Numbers of advisers

    1. There were a total of 1047 licensed immigration advisers at 30 June 2017.

Advisers

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

Organisations

825

59

15

3

2

1

0

1

0

1

0

  1. In 2015, there was a sudden increase of TTMRA advisers due to the introduction of the compulsory supervision policy, a large number of whom did not renew their licence in 2016. Aside from this, the number of licensed advisers has only grown very gradually over the last two years.
  2. Of the 1047 licensed immigration advisers:
    • 70% advisers were onshore
    • 30% advisers were offshore.
    • 43% advisers held an approved qualification.
    • 35% advisers did not hold an approved qualification.
    • 22% advisers were TTMRA.

Expiries

  1. There were 159 licence expiries compared to 62 the year before.  This was an overall expiry rate of 14.6% compared to 8% for the previous three years. The increase was due to the TTMRA advisers who did not renew their licence in their first year.
  2. Of the 159 licence expiries:
    • 76% expired in their first year
    • 11% expired in their second year which was similar to previous years - 8% (2015-2016), 16% (2014-2015) and 8% (2013-2014).
    • Licence expiries in the third year dropped to 4%, compared to 8% the previous year.
    • The licence expiries in the fifth year dropped to 1%, compared to 10% the previous year.
  3. The licence surrender rate has been generally static between 1-2%.
  4. The breakdown of expiry rates by month recorded October, November and December as the highest, due to the TTMRA licence expiries.

Offshore location

  1. The location of offshore advisers by country,  highest to lowest is:
    • Australia
    • India
    • United Kingdom
    • China
    • South Africa
    • Philippines
    • Malaysia

Adviser satisfaction survey

  1. The overall licensed adviser satisfaction survey results were discussed which were generally positive.
  1. Offshore update from visiting offshore adviser Vinit Joshi (Brisbane, Australia).
    1. The challenges an offshore adviser faces completing New Zealand’s CPD requirements were discussed, particularly completing 20 hours and establishing a networking group. The group suggested attending or watching recorded copies of webinars conducted by the IAA or organisations like NZAMI.
    2. A question was asked as to why lawyers are exempt from the New Zealand licensing regime. Catherine noted that it would be very challenging for a lawyer to comply with both the requirements for lawyers and the requirements for licensed advisers. She also noted that the separation ensured that consumers were quite clear on their pathways to make a complaint.
    3. The cost of the licensing fee and levy being higher than other occupational licensing regimes was raised. Catherine acknowledged that the cost is higher than most occupational licensing regimes due to the comparatively small number of licensed immigration advisers, and that it is mostly self-funded.
  2. Update on supervision and proposed changes.
    1. Catherine noted that consideration had been given to the feedback provided by the group on supervision. Changes are proposed to both the Supervision Toolkit and the model supervision agreement.
    2. One member asked if a provisional licence holder who was licensed via the TTMRA and held a provisional licence for two years, but had handled no New Zealand visa applications would be eligible for an upgrade. Catherine responded if a provisional licence holder is unable to demonstrate their competence to handle a New Zealand visa application at inspection, they would be required to stay on a provisional licence.
    3. Some members had previously suggested that provisional licence holders should be required to provide a set number of files for different kinds of visas in order to upgrade. Catherine responded that the Authority is not planning to make this change at this point in time and if it was to introduce such a change, sufficient notice would need to be given.
    4. The proposed changes to the Supervision Toolkit and the model supervision agreement, aimed at supervision being more transparent between the supervisor and the provisional licence holder were discussed and supported. The changes are:
      • Noting that initially the supervisor should monitor documentation before it is sent. When the supervisor is confident that the provisional licence holder is competent in particular tasks, they may monitor those tasks after they have been sent. Ideally, over the two-year period the provisional licence holder would become more independent but still have the key and formal documentation and correspondence monitored. If issues arose during monitoring, the supervisor should go back to reviewing documentation prior to it being sent.
      • Being more transparent on the expected case-load of the provisional licence holder and whether they are working full-time or part-time.
      • Being clear on how the provisional licence holder and supervisor will communicate in between formal meetings.
      • Being clear on any supervision fees.
      • Signing a declaration that the agreement has been tailored to reflect the actual arrangement.
      • Signing a declaration both parties agree that the Registrar may raise questions or concerns regarding the supervision arrangement with the supervisor and/or the provisional licence holder.
  3. Discussion on Continuing Professional Development.
    1. In 2014 the Martin Jenkin’s review was undertaken which recommended changes to the CPD requirements at that time. A range of CPD models were analysed and broad consultation was undertaken with all licensed immigration advisers.
    2. It was decided to maintain a model which allowed advisers to identify their own learning needs, but requires active learning activities and personal reflection, mirroring the New Zealand Law Society’s model.
    3. One of the provisions that was introduced in the new CPD model, but has not yet been used is the requirement to do mandatory CPD.
    4. Catherine welcomed suggestions and feedback from the group in regards to the current CPD model used by the Authority.
    5. Most members noted that they did not have a challenge meeting the CPD hours or requirements.
    6. The NZAMI member noted that NZAMI had concerns about the quality of study groups and supported accredited and mandatory CPD.
    7. Group members generally strongly supported having some component of mandatory CPD.
    8. Members suggested that mandatory CPD activities could be webinars from the IAA based on major issues identified by the IAA; or activities focussing on changes to immigration policy.
    9. There continued to be support for advisers to be able to identify their learning needs aside from any mandatory activities.
    10. It was strongly suggested that recordings of INZ Henderson seminars should be available online for advisers based outside Auckland, especially offshore.
  4. Open Forum
    1. Catherine spoke about an upcoming awareness campaign in the Philippines in October, as well as in Filipino communities already in New Zealand. Catherine will be working in collaboration with INZ in Manila and will be using traditional and social media.  
    2. Catherine requested advisers working in the Filipino sector to recommend to the Authority any organisations, employers or social networks like Facebook pages in New Zealand as well as in the Philippines, which the Authority could contact with its messaging.
    3. One proposal for this campaign is to develop a “consumer checklist” for consumers to check they have been provided with the basic information and pre-requisites for the services they are paying for. This will encourage consumers of immigration advice to be more proactive and protect themselves against not only unlicensed advice, but poor licensed advice as well.
    4. The Authority will also be conducting additional social media advertising in India in September/October.
    5. There will also be a follow up international student awareness campaign in New Zealand in November or December this year, and the Authority will be looking at different ways to get the message out.
    6. Catherine welcomed any contacts, feedback and suggestions from advisers working in these sectors.
    7. There was some discussion around advisers coming across unlicensed immigration activities. Catherine urged members to report issues they may be aware of to the Authority.
    8. Catherine thanked the group for attending and acknowledged their contribution.