June 2019 newsletter
Tēnā koutou katoa,
It continues to be busy for us at the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA). The weather is certainly taking a turn and I know a few people who have had travel disruptions recently (myself included). In line with the challenges weather often presents, the pressure on the IAA hasn’t slowed. We are still working towards lifting the speed with which we process inspections and I would like to thank those waiting for a renewal inspection for their continued patience and understanding.
The May meeting of the Licensed Adviser Reference Group was held at the IAA office and the record of the meeting is here.
As you can read in the record, I plan to begin a formal review of the Competency Standards 2016.
Within the scope of the review I am keen to test whether we change the stage at which an adviser can enter the profession. At present an adviser can begin practicing as a provisional half-way through the course, I am interested in testing whether we ensure people complete the course before practicing. I will also be considering what changes we can make to the scheme to lift our game in regards to supervision of provisional licensees.
This review will be conducted publicly and all licensed advisers, and any other interested person, will have the opportunity to participate. It may be some months before the wheels get moving, but get your thinking caps on and consider potential changes that could assist lifting the standard of immigration advice. The best people to help us design these rules are the people working within them.
Also the webinar on ethics in the practice of immigration advice was a success, and we have received very positive feedback for the most part. This can still be viewed (and counted as CPD) and the link is below. This month’s webinar is on Client Files and we have confirmed a webinar on wellbeing for advisers and their clients. A few of the team at the IAA attended the Immigration Law Conference on 6 June 2019. It was a very worthwhile day and I enjoyed seeing those advisers who were able to make it.
I was particularly interested in the final presentation of the day from Simon Laurent on IACDT Jurisprudence. Of note in Simon’s presentation, was his noting of recent IACDT decisions regarding conduct of advisers when communicating with INZ staff. He made the comment, “play the ball, not the player”, and this resonated with me.
I am mindful of current delays in the processing of visa applications, and I am also mindful that advisers take their role as advocates seriously. However, if interactions between advisers and INZ staff cross into what could be perceived as personal attacks, or could be perceived as bullying or harassment, the harmful effect this can have on a person cannot be understated.
The Code of Conduct requires that licensed advisers be professional, diligent and respectful. The Authority will take action where our office receives information about advisers being less than professional in their dealings with INZ staff. I understand that delays and pressure can cause frustration, but remember there is a person on the end of the phone or reading your email, and this should be kept in mind when dealing with these interactions.
Keep well and keep our standards high.
Registrar of Immigration Advisers
Immigration Contact Centre – Adviser trusted line
I recently met with the MBIE Immigration Contact Centre (ICC). The ICC provides a range of services supporting both citizens and providers of immigration services. ICC has recently undertaken analysis of some calls to assist with they might work to change or enhance services.
At least 75% of calls relate to inquiries on an existing Visa applications.
The ICC receives a lot of general and relatively simple queries. A little concerning to the IAA is that this trend suggests there may be skill gaps from advisers in their knowledge of immigration instructions, or an adviser may not have taken the time to educate themselves sufficiently or utilise the available online resources, prior to calling the ICC.
Licensed Advisers are required to be competent in immigration instructions and know where to find the information they need to inform their practice and clients, and the contact centre shouldn’t be used as a first port of call for simple questions. Please only use the ICC Advisers trusted line for its key purpose and be mindful to try and find information through the INZ website or publicly available information.
I am working closely with INZ to ensure we can provide further education around the resources available for general information on immigration policy, rules and processes to assist advisers to this end.
The IAA requires all New Zealand licensed advisers, including those who are Registered Migration Agents in Australia, to attend one webinar run by the IAA in 2019. You may count watching a recording of a seminar or other training session towards your CPD hours where that session includes interaction such as questions and answers. However, we do recommend that to get the most value from this activity you get together with at least one other adviser so that you can discuss the content.
Webinar topic: Client Files
As you know, we inspect client files upon renewal of licenses or when investigating complaints so this webinar aims to provide a blueprint of how to produce a quality client file to the IAA that will make yours and our job easier – as well as meeting Code obligations.
Attending as speakers in this webinar will be myself, Anastasia Sherry (Senior Technical Advisor) and Polina Finney (Technical Advisor) from the IAA and Simon van Weeghel (Senior Investigator – Complaints). We currently have 261 registered attendees and there is plenty of room for more.
Date and time: Wednesday 26 June 2019 at 3pm
Webinar topic: Wellbeing working for you
Tracey Sparksman will take you through reflective session where you'll explore what wellbeing looks like for each of us and how we can build on the elements of our lives that keep us well. You'll reflect on what it looks like when things are tough going and how we can offer support to others when we sense they aren't having the best time. This can be equally applied to you and your teams, but also your clients.
Tracey has over 10 years experience working for the Mental Health Foundation of NZ, most recently developing and delivering workplace wellbeing session within ACC and Auckland Council.
Join us for this session and take action to improve your experience of wellbeing, and increase your knowledge to support others.
Date and time: Wednesday 31 July 2019 at 3pm
Recent webinar: Ethics considerations in the provision of immigration advice
During our May webinar with two very well regarded guests; Peter Moses and Simon Laurent (a couple of well-known immigration law practitioners) we discussed a few tricky ethical questions and provided some discussion and tools for people to use when they come across ethical issues or dilemmas in the practice of immigration advice. We had 481 people attend and if you missed it please listen to the webinar here(external link). (Apologies for the technical challenges – but the important part is the discussion).
IAA in the media
One of the roles of a regulator is to ensure we denounce and deter offending. To that end, we regularly use media to highlight both our proactive and offence prosecution activity. Please feel free to share these links to your networks.
Unlicensed immigration adviser pleads guilty
An Auckland man has pleaded guilty to five charges laid by the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA), four representative counts of providing immigration advice without being licensed or exempt, and one representative charge of asking for or receiving a fee.
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.
Two recent Tribunal decisions have involved instances of overseas-based Licensed Immigration Advisers enabling unlicensed individuals to give immigration advice, in the belief that the laws in their jurisdiction allowed this. In MZ v Sun  IACDT 12 the immigration adviser was based in China and did not communicate directly with the client, instead relying on a migration company with unlicensed staff to do so. The immigration adviser submitted that Chinese law prohibits foreign registered advisers from engaging directly with and advising Chinese citizens who are interested in migrating.
In Hahn v Walke  NZIACDT 19 the immigration adviser enabled her unlicensed partner to give immigration advice at seminars, and the adviser submitted that her partner was licensed under German law to do so.
In both decisions, the Tribunal stated that a licence can only be held by a person able to comply with the legal and professional obligations imposed by the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007 and the Code of Conduct. The decisions further stated that it is not for the Tribunal or the IAA to interpret foreign laws or reconcile any potential conflicts with New Zealand law, it is up to the licensed immigration adviser to do so. The Tribunal went on to say that if the laws of the two countries are found to be incompatible, then the adviser must surrender their licence.
New decisions are appearing regularly and I encourage you to save the following link as a bookmark.
Read recent Tribunal decisions(external link) on the Justice website.