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October 2020 Newsletter

Message from the Registrar

Kia ora

My name is Duncan and I have recently stepped into the role of Registrar of Immigration Advisers. I would like to thank Simon van Weeghel for his time as Registrar, and wish him well in his new role.

As Auckland returned to alert level one, the Immigration Advisers Authority (Authority) team has been able to return to the office and the public counter has reopened.

To ensure we can continue to provide the industry with informative and relevant updates of what is happening in our space, the newsletter will be published on a bi-monthly basis. You can subscribe to receive this newsletter to your inbox.(external link)

We continue to see a rise in initial and upgrade applications submitted to the Authority and we have noted an increase in re-apply applications submitted. Please remember to renew your licence on time, this will ensure that you are able to continue to provide immigration services to your clients without interruption to your business.

We notify all licensed immigration advisers via email, at least two (2) months in advance of their licence expiring. Once you have received your renewal reminder, your online application will be available for you to complete. If you are due to renew but have not received your reminder, please contact info@iaa.govt.nz.

Our next webinar will be available in November in which we will be trialing a different format. This will be a pre-recorded panel session, which you will be able register to watch once the recording is available. See the article below for further details.

The Immigration Advisers Complaints & Disciplinary Tribunal has also been busy recently, and a number of new decisions have been published on the Tribunal’s website(external link).  These decisions are valuable learning tools, and I encourage you to read and discuss them with your peers, as increased awareness of your professional obligations will help to prevent and address complaints from clients.

We have also had a successful prosecution for unlicensed immigration advice given by the director of an immigration company. See the article below for further details

Thank you for your continued patience during these challenging times.

Duncan Connor

Registrar of Immigration Advisers

portrait duncan connor

Update from Toi Ohomai

EzyMigrate Graduate Diploma in New Zealand Immigration Advice Scholarship

EzyMigrate offers one scholarship each year for a female student of the GDNZIA. The scholarship is valued at NZ$5000 and is open to both domestic and international students commencing their studies in February 2021.

You can review the criteria and application process here(external link)

GDNZIA not for profit scholarship

Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology offers one scholarship each year for a student of the GDNZIA who intends to provide New Zealand immigration advice on a not-for-profit basis while working or volunteering for a not-for-profit organisation in New Zealand. The scholarship will cover the student’s domestic tuition fees for the one-year Graduate Diploma.

Before applying to Toi Ohomai for the scholarship, the applicant must have their not-for-profit status pre-approved by the Authority.

Details on how to apply are available here(external link)

Upcoming webinar

Our next webinar will be available for viewing in late November 2020. The topic will be ‘Learning from others’ mistakes’. Please make sure to check the website for the registration link to access this recording.

Please take a screenshot of your completed registration page for your CPD record before you click “submit”. We are able to verify that you have viewed the recording once you register. We do not issue certificates – the evidence that you registered is sufficient for our purposes.

Following feedback from the industry, the aim of this webinar is to address common mistakes that both the licensing team and complaints team come across when carrying out their regulatory roles.

Rather than the usual presentation style webinar, the format will be a pre-recorded Q&A panel session.

We invite the industry to submit questions in advance of the webinar. We ask that you submit one (1) question only. The panel will aim to address the most common queries during the recorded session.

Your question can be on the broad topics of:

  • Written agreements
  • Client files
  • Professional responsibilities
  • Supervision

Please send your question to info@iaa.govt.nz by 5pm Tuesday 10 November 2020 and include November 2020 Webinar in your subject line.

The Authority is unable to provide legal advice. If you are concerned about your business practice and compliance with your obligations under the Code of Conduct, it is strongly recommended that you seek independent legal advice.

You may count this webinar towards our mandatory webinar requirements.

Licensing matters

New upgrade application form

As mentioned in our August newsletter, the Authority has now updated Form 201 Upgrade Application form [PDF, 489 KB]. The new version is available online to download for all applicants who wish to submit an upgrade application.

From 1 November 2020, applicants must use the new form. Any applications received on the old form will be returned.

Please refer to the Licensing Toolkit for further information.

Provisional licence holders without a supervisor: upgrade requirements

As explained in the Licensing Toolkit, anyone who began their study towards an approved qualification from July 2015 onwards is required to hold a provisional licence and enter into a supervision arrangement with a fully licensed immigration adviser for two years before they may upgrade to a full licence. The requirement of holding a provisional licence for 24 months is reiterated in the Competency standards 2016 [PDF, 260 KB], performance indicator 1.12.

Section 19(5) of the Act(external link) and Clauses 8(a) and (c) of the Code [PDF, 374 KB] make it clear that provisional licence holders are expected to work under direct supervision. In other words, merely holding a current provisional licence for 24 months may not be sufficient to satisfy the upgrade requirements.

What this means is that if you terminate your supervision agreement, and are left with no supervisor as a result of the termination, you may not satisfy the Registrar that the competency standards are met to be granted a full licence.

When we assess your upgrade application, we will inspect your supervision records. If there are significant gaps in your supervision, be it because you have not had a supervisor for some time, or you have not complied with your supervision agreement and the Authority’s supervision policy, your upgrade application may be unsuccessful.

Please refer to the Supervision Toolkit, our past webinar on Supervision, and/or contact us if you have queries related to supervision.

CPD: attending a mandatory webinar

This year has presented a number of unique challenges. On account of COVID-19 and subsequent lockdowns, we have been unable to hold our customary four webinars per year. Instead, by the end of 2020, we will have presented only two.

We are aware that this situation may have an impact on some of you who may be unable to meet the mandatory CPD requirement, namely attending one Authority webinar held during your current licensing period.

If you have been unable to participate in a mandatory webinar, please explain this fact in a covering letter. We will assess each case on its merits, taking all relevant circumstances into account.

Please bear in mind that in terms of Competency Standard 7, you are expected to maintain and produce upon request your CPD plan and record for up to three years. Therefore, even if your CPD plans and records are not requested for inspection with your current renewal application, please keep notes of your current situation, together with applicable evidence, for at least three years.

Industry groups

We understand that advisers may feel isolated at the moment. The industry has a number of cell groups nationally, enabling advisers to build their network. Cell groups also provide an opportunity to undertake CPD activities.

Resources

We understand that that COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the industry. You may wish to refer to some resources/ information already available on the Authority’s website for further assistance:

  • Wellbeing Webinar - Presented July 2019- Wellbeing working for you
  • Other wellbeing support services – Further information is available in March 2020 newsletter
    For support with grief, anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing, you can also call or text the 'Need to talk?' service on 1737. This service is free, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and gives you the chance to talk with a trained counsellor.
  • COVID-19 impact on business - financial support available/ CPD activities

Reference Group matters

On 16 September the Reference Group held its last meeting. Thank you to all the participants who contributed to all three rounds, providing their valuable feedback.

Meeting minutes can be found here.

Appley Boyd’s presentation can be accessed here [PDF, 660 KB].

We will soon be calling for expressions of interest from licensed immigration advisers to join the Authority’s 2021 Reference Group.

Please make sure to check your inbox and our website for further updates.

The Authority 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 prosecutions we initiate and raise awareness amongst consumers of immigration advice. Please feel free to share these links to your networks.

Home detention, community work, and large fine for company director providing unlicensed immigration advice

An Auckland man has been fined and sentenced to six months home detention and 200 hours community work, and his company fined and ordered to repay victims for providing immigration advice without being licensed or exempt, and asking for or receiving a fee.

Read more here

Tribunal decisions

The Immigration Advisers Complaints & Disciplinary Tribunal has recently released decisions which found the Advisers to be dishonest and misleading.

In NZQA (Seavor-Cross) v Jin [2020] NZIACDT 35, the Tribunal stated: “…In support of an application filed with NZQA on behalf of his client, [the adviser] created a document which was designed to look like an official school document. He inserted the school’s logo and added a footer designed to make the document make authentic. The document is clearly false, as [the adviser] admits. Equally clearly, his conduct was both dishonest and misleading. It was designed to hoodwink NZQA into believing that it was an official document issued by the school. [The Adviser] was not motivated by greed or seeking to acquire any benefit for himself or his client, beyond speeding up a process potentially slowed down by his mistake. However, this is not a defence or excuse for his unprofessional conduct, though it will be a relevant factor in mitigation when it comes to assessing sanctions”.

In TTD v Zheng [2020] NZIACDT 37, the Tribunal stated: “…At 1 February 2019, [the adviser] knew the decision to study in New Zealand had been made before the complainant arrived here. He was endeavouring to hoodwink Immigration New Zealand into believing the decision to study, and hence the need to switch to a different visa, was made only after herarrival. The agency would otherwise be suspicious of whether she had been a genuine visitor on arrival. If so, the new type of visa sought was far more likely to be declined. I find that [the adviser] provided false information to Immigration New Zealand on 1 February 2019 in order to mislead the agency. This satisfies the ground of complaint of dishonest or misleading behaviour under the Act”.

The Tribunal also commented in its recent decision about the approach it would take for advisers who have had previous complaints referred to the Tribunal.

In Jiang v Tian [2020] NZIACDT 39, the Tribunal stated: “…[the adviser] has breached cls 18(a), 22, 23, 26(a)(iii), (b) and (d) of the Code…Two similar complaints to the Tribunal against [the adviser] have previously been upheld. Sanctions for this complaint will take into account both those complaints. As three complaints have now been upheld, the Tribunal will consider removing [the adviser] from the profession for a period and/or preventing her from holding a full licence for a period, including whether any conditions should be attached to any such sanction”.

New decisions are appearing regularly and I encourage you to save the following link as a bookmark.

Read recent Tribunal decisions on the Justice website(external link)

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