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May 2018 newsletter

Registrar update

Next week, on 4 May 2018, it will be 10 years since immigration adviser licensing has been operational. We reflect on some of the milestones and achievements below.

In May we are looking forward to engaging with you in our webinar on initial assessments and client engagements. Over 600 advisers are registered for it which will be our biggest webinar yet.

We are also looking forward to releasing a refreshed IAA website. The new website has been designed to ensure we are on a stable web platform, and while it looks fresh and new, you will find the same content in similar places. There will be no changes to the secure portal where you lodge applications and update your details.

In this newsletter we are giving you a snap-shot of the best practices we see during inspection renewals to give you all some inspiration. We also include tips on how to ensure your business is set up in a way that doesn’t facilitate unlicensed immigration advice.

We are currently planning our last awareness campaign for the 2017/18 financial year. In May and June we will be running a social media campaign in South America, focusing on Brazil, Colombia and Chile, which are the top three South American countries that apply for visas to New Zealand. The purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness of New Zealand immigration adviser licensing requirements among those looking to come to New Zealand from these countries.

Finally, this will be my last newsletter to you as Registrar as I am moving on to take up a new opportunity at the end of May. It has been a privilege to be in this role and I leave with a huge respect for licensed immigration advisers and the challenging work you do. I would like to sincerely thank you for the positive engagement we have had and I wish you all the very best for your futures. The Ministry will be recruiting for a new Registrar and you will be informed of that outcome and any interim arrangements in due course.

Nga mihi

Catherine Albiston

Registrar of Immigration Advisers

catherine albiston

10 years of immigration adviser licensing

The Immigration Advisers Licensing Act was passed on 4 May 2007 and after around a year of establishing the Authority, the Competency Standards and the Code of Conduct, the first person was licensed in June 2008.

The Graduate Certificate in New Zealand Immigration Advice was introduced in 2012, followed by the Graduate Diploma in 2016. Since 2015, new advisers are being supervised for two years before they are granted a full licence.

The IAA has taken 16 prosecutions against unlicensed advisers in this time with the toughest sentence being just under four years imprisonment for Richard Martin (combined with convictions for immigration fraud).

We have run a series of well-received campaigns since 2016 to raise awareness about immigration adviser licensing, from India to the Philippines, Sri Lanka , South Africa and our neighbours in Samoa, Fiji and Tonga, to international students here in New Zealand.

We currently have 1062 licensed immigration advisers and you can see the progression of numbers from just over 200 in 2009 below.

The number of licenced advisers on the register as at 30 June 2017

Lessons from inspections

What are the best practices we see in inspection renewal applications? We thought we’d share with you our pick of the top three best practices we see.

  1. Clear comprehensive eligibility assessments, recorded in writing, that highlight potential risks and show the adviser is assessing all the options and providing the best advice to the client.
  2. Evidence of good communication with the client which shows the adviser has a relationship with their client, and that they are providing regular updates and clear instructions.
  3. Supervision minutes that show regular and detailed conversations are taking place, with a focus on the adviser’s learning needs.

Presenting us with a well-organised file that is easy to follow also helps us to see that you have met your obligations. And when things have gone wrong, being upfront in a cover letter about mistakes you made or issues you faced gives you the opportunity to tell us how you addressed them.

Avoiding unlicensed advice in your business

The Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal has dealt with many complaints over the years concerning immigration advisers facilitating unlicensed immigration advice. It commonly gets called “rubberstamping”: the licensed adviser is purportedly the one giving advice, but in reality, the advice is coming from an unlicensed person.

This is a topic which the IAA has written about before and we ran a webinar on it in early 2017. However we still see new complaints coming through on this matter, and issues at inspection renewals.

First and foremost, we encourage you to take responsibility for delivering your obligations yourselves.

When a person comes to a licensed immigration adviser they are expecting the services of a licensed professional who meets the standards set by the New Zealand government. It is important that you deliver your services honestly; that you undertake your obligations and that you do not misrepresent who will be delivering the services.

Secondly, remember that the definition of immigration advice is broad. Unlicensed staff should not be providing tailored immigration advice to clients, even if that advice is considered straightforward. It is an offence under the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007 to employ or contract an unlicensed or non-exempt person as an immigration adviser.

Thirdly, where unlicensed staff are genuinely engaging in clerical work, it needs to be clear in your records that the licensed adviser themselves is undertaking their obligations under the Code.

Watch the IAA’s webinar on the limits of clerical work

Read a new Tribunal decision on rubber stamping(external link)

Read other Tribunal decisions on this topic listed in our Toolkit

2018 mandatory CPD

As part of your Continuing Professional Development (CPD) 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 2018, by 31 December 2018.

This year, our webinars will focus on client engagement and initial assessments. Many complaints arise because client engagement processes have not been followed or because an adviser’s initial advice is not recorded in writing. Ensuring you have good engagement processes in place goes a long way to establishing a good client relationship and avoiding mismatched expectations.

The IAA’s webinars for 2018 are scheduled as follows:   


This webinar has already taken place.

You can view a recording of it by registering here(external link).

Please take a screenshot of your completed registration page for your CPD record before you click “submit”.

The IAA will be able to verify that you have viewed the recording once you register.

Client engagement and initial assessments

You can register to participate in this webinar on any one of the following three days:

Register here for Tuesday 15 May 3pm – 4pm NZST(external link).

Register here for Wednesday 29 August 3pm – 4pm NZST(external link).

Register here for Tuesday 30 October 4pm – 5pm NZST(external link).

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing a link to join the webinar.

If you are not able to attend one of these webinars at the scheduled time you will be able to watch a video of the webinar after it is delivered.

All advisers need to understand their CPD obligations and we strongly encourage you to refresh your understanding by re-reading our CPD Toolkit.

Read our CPD Toolkit

Tribunal decisions

The Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal has published several new decisions in 2018 which are now available on its website. Reading Tribunal decisions, or discussing them in your study group, will help develop your understanding of your professional responsibilities.

Read recent Tribunal decisions here(external link)