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Education providers reminded about immigration advice laws

The Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA) has visited more than 20 education providers in the past week, reminding them of the laws around providing immigration advice for New Zealand.

Last year an Auckland based education agent was sentenced to home detention for providing unlawful immigration advice. As part of its regular proactive compliance practice IAA investigators got out to remind education providers of the clear laws about the provision of immigration advice,” says the Registrar of Immigration Advisers, Andrew Galloway.

“Overall we found that most of the establishments were aware of these requirements, however some issues were raised during the operation which will be investigated by the IAA.

“In one case a private training establishment had a practice which raised serious concerns and will be the subject of an investigation into the potential of unlicensed immigration advice.

“Only a licensed adviser or someone exempt can provide immigration advice. Many education providers engage licensed advisers, ensuring they were always on the right side of the line.

“The exemption for education advisers is for offshore only, and limited to student visa matters. If people want broader immigration advice such as pathways to residency or advice about bringing partners and families to New Zealand they need to use a licensed adviser or someone that is exempt.”

The IAA has factsheets available for education providers in several languages and encourages all education providers to ensure they are keeping to the letter of the law.

“The IAA will continue to run proactive campaigns in the near future, the likely target of future campaigns may be recruitment firms, employers and associations. Unlawful immigration advice can cause significant stress and problems for visa applicants, not to mention putting them out of pocket or putting their dreams of moving to New Zealand in serious jeopardy.

“If people need help with a visa application, they should only use a licensed immigration adviser or exempt person,” says Mr Galloway.

The IAA’s online register of licensed advisers(external link) is available for those who want to search for a licensed immigration adviser. More information on the IAA can be found at www.iaa.govt.nz

The IAA investigates complaints made by the public about unlicensed immigration advice. Individuals found breaking the law can face up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to NZD$100,000.

Notes to editor

The Immigration Advisers Authority was set up to promote and protect the interests of people receiving New Zealand immigration advice.

We do this by:

  • issuing licences to people who are fit and competent to give immigration advice
  • maintaining competency standards and a code of conduct for immigration advisers
  • investigating people giving immigration advice without a licence or exemption
  • receiving complaints from people who have received poor immigration advice.

Under the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007(external link) anyone giving immigration advice must have a licence unless they are exempt. Exempt people include lawyers with a current New Zealand practising certificate and Citizens Advice Bureaux staff among others.

The Authority is independent of Immigration New Zealand and cannot give immigration advice or influence a visa application