June 2023 Newsletter
Message from the Registrar
Kia ora koutou
The end of June signals the end of the financial year, which is an excellent time to reflect on our work so far. The webinar we delivered on 31 May, ‘Client Communications: Lessons from the Migrant Survey and the Tribunal,’ was based on just such a reflection.
We looked back at Tribunal decisions, licensing outcomes, and responses gathered through the Migrant Survey to pinpoint trends in advisers’ practice and share improvements. A link to the webinar recording appears at the end of this newsletter.
The end of June is also a busy period for the Authority as we enter a peak period for initial and upgrade applications. Our licensing team is working tirelessly to process those. If you are supervising an initial applicant who is yet to submit their very first licence application, please encourage them to download and complete our application checklist:
Whether a recent industry entrant or a seasoned adviser, you will be busy preparing written agreements for your clients. Our licensing team has put together a list of pitfalls to avoid: Have a read, and if you can – watch one of our past webinars covering this topic, including ‘Learning from Others’ Mistakes’ (parts 1 and 2), as well as ‘The Start of the Client Relationship’. All past webinars are available on our website.
We have also included a summary of recent Tribunal decisions, which can educate advisers on our expectations of them and how Code of Conduct provisions should be interpreted and applied.
We hope you enjoy this edition of the newsletter.
Keep our standards high.
Ngā mihi nui
Registrar of Immigration Advisers
All advisers are required to provide their clients with a written service agreement. Clause 19 of the Licensed Immigration Advisers Code of Conduct 2014 (the Code) tells us what must be included in such an agreement.
Nonetheless, we continue to find non-compliant written agreements when we assess client files. We’ve listed the most common mistakes below, in the hope that you will take note of them and guard against repeating them in your own practice:
- Clause 19(e): a full description of the services to be provided by the adviser.
We often find that written agreements contain an inadequate description of the services being provided, for example where the description is too vague, too brief, or is simply incorrect. The last example is usually a result of ‘copy-and-paste’ errors in poorly tailored agreements.
- Clause 19(g): the likely disbursements that will be incurred.
Once again, we often see mistakes when such a clause is either missing or does not contain the disbursement amounts known to the adviser.
- Clause 19(i): Where fees and/or disbursements are to be charged, the payment terms and conditions for any fees and/or disbursements.
This is really important: your client must know when fees will become payable. All payment milestones must be clearly set out. Please remember to adhere to these milestones, or to amend the agreement in writing, with your client’s written consent, if any changes are necessary.
- Clause 19(m): A record that a copy of the summary of licensed immigration advisers’ professional responsibilities has been provided and explained to the client.
In most cases, advisers attach the ‘Professional Standards’ to their agreements. What many seem to forget, however, is that the Professional Standards must be explained to the client (see Clause 17(b) of the Code) and the agreement must contain a record that such an explanation has been provided (Clause 19(m) of the Code). Please take steps to ensure that you meet both these obligations.
To assist advisers in developing their written agreement templates, we have uploaded a checklist. Please follow the checklist to ensure that your written agreements are always Code-compliant.
New resources – Professional Standards now available in Taglish, Hindi and Punjabi
We are happy to announce that recently we added some more translations. Advisers can now access the Professional Standards leaflet in:
The summary of licensed immigration advisers’ professional responsibilities is available in several languages to download and print directly from the Authority’s website.
Clause 17(b) of the Code requires advisers to explain the summary of licensed immigration advisers’ professional responsibilities to their client and advise them how to access a full copy of the Code of Conduct.
The Immigration Advisers Complaints & Disciplinary Tribunal has recently released 5 sanctions decisions for upheld complaints:
In SM v Kim the Tribunal found that Mr Kim breached clauses 19(e) and 19(f) of the Code of Conduct by not including recruitment services (as part of their wider immigration work) in the written agreement to the client. Mr Kim was censured and ordered to pay a penalty of $500.
In TC v MacLeod, the Tribunal found that Mr MacLeod had breached clauses 1, 19(f), 20(a) and 20(b) of the Code of Conduct by failing to ensure sufficient knowledge of the client’s business plan for their visa applications, and then blaming the client and INZ for the wrong advice he gave. Mr MacLeod was censured and ordered to pay a penalty of $2,000.
In WS v Lawlor, the Tribunal found that Mr Lawlor had misled his client into believing a NZQA assessment had been filed when it had not. It was further found that Mr Lawlor breached clauses 1, 18(a), 22, 24(b), 24(c), 25(a), 25(e), 25(f), and 26(b) of the Code of Conduct. Mr Lawlor was censured, ordered to pay a penalty of $3,000 and pay compensation of $2,000 to the client.
In NG v Murthy the Tribunal found that Ms Murthy had breached clauses 1 and 18(a) of the Code of Conduct after she failed to lodge an information request with INZ seeking immigration records for her client, and failed to provide a written agreement and the opportunity to review section 61 requests prior to lodgement. Ms Murthy was censured, ordered to pay a penalty of $2,000 and refund fees of $2,200 to the client.
In XX v Xu the Tribunal found that the adviser had breached clauses 1, 17(a), 17(b), 17(c), 18(a) and 26(c) of the Code of Conduct by failing to give adequate and correct immigration advice and work in a timely manner. The adviser was cautioned, ordered to pay a penalty of $1,000 and compensation of $4,893 to the client.
New decisions are appearing regularly, and we encourage you to save the following link as a bookmark:
Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary decisions(external link) — Ministry of Justice
We delivered our first webinar for 2023 on 31 May. If you were unable to attend the live session, you can access the video recording, and download a copy of the slides, on our website:
Please remember that if you wish to count watching a recording towards your annual CPD hours, you must take a screenshot of your completed registration page for your CPD record before you click “submit”, as explained on our website.