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Reference group minutes, 16 September 2020

Date: Wednesday 16 September 2020, 1pm - 2pm

Place: via Zoom


Licensed Immigration Advisers: Amanda Gaskin (Ernst & Young, Wellington & NZAIP member), Caren Donald (KPMG, Auckland), Hemant Kaushal (Contact New Zealand Immigration Consultants, Auckland), Steve Baker (Enterprise Recruitment, Christchurch), Steven Dunning (Greenstone Global, Hamilton) and Vanita Hurbuns (A2 NZ Immigration Limited, Auckland).

IAA - Duncan Connor (Registrar of Immigration Advisers), Gary Parsons (Technical and Licensing Team Leader), Anastasia Sherry (Senior Technical Advisor), Luanshya Bakes (Senior Technical Advisor), and Sunita Kumari (Licensing Administrator).

Guests - Appley Boyd (Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology) and Rob Perry (INZ, Relationship Manager).

Apologies - June Ranson (Woburn International Limited, Wellington & NZAMI Chairperson) and Polina Finney (Technical Advisor).

Introductions / Registrar comments

  • Duncan opened the meeting by introducing himself as the Registrar of Immigration Advisers Authority and also as the Operational Manager for the Occupational Licensing Team for MBIE’s Market Services Branch.
  • The Group did a round of introductions in the virtual room.

Update from Toi-Ohomai Institute of Technology

Appley Boyd discussed the proposed changes to Toi-Ohomai’s Graduate Diploma in New Zealand Immigration Advice (GDNZIA). In summary, the four proposed changes to the content of the Graduate Diploma were:

  1. LAWS6015 “Introduction to the Immigration Industry and Professional Responsibilities” and LAWS7015 “Professional Practice”
    • For LAWS6015, a few additions are proposed around Professional responsibilities and code of conduct,
    • For LAWS7015, a few additions are also proposed focusing on business practice and the practicalities of working with clients
  2. Changes to LAWS7013 “Temporary Entry, Compliance and Unlawful Status” and LAWS7016 “Specialist Immigration Areas”:
    • Employer accreditation is scheduled to become compulsory from 2021. Therefore it would be more appropriate to cover employer accreditation in the first half of the programme so students can learn about the process before becoming licensed.
    • It is proposed that ‘employer accreditation’ is moved from LAWS7016 to LAWS7013.
  3. English language entry requirements
    • At present there are difficulties in applying the English Language requirements.
    • It is proposed that Toi-Ohomai are given the discretion to require an applicant to undertake an English Language test when required (such as an IELTS test).
    • The English language entry requirements will remain consistent with Competency Standard 5 of the Competency Standards 2016.
  4. Recognition of academic credit
    • The content of the Graduate Certificate NZ Immigration Advice (GCNZIA) and GDNZIA are significantly different given the time that has now passed since students studied the GCNZIA.
    • It is proposed that the statement from the programme document indicating “graduates of the GCNZIA are able to obtain credit for their GCNZIA studies towards the GDNZIA” is  removed.
    • Applications for credit will still be accepted and will be assessed on a case by case basis.

Proposed changes to the GDNZIA content [PDF, 660 KB]

For more information, Appley Boyd can be contacted by email and/or phone.

Key feedback and discussion: 2021 reference group and beyond

  • What has worked well?
  • What could be improved?
  • Suggested ‘work’ for the reference group next year

The following feedback and concerns raised by the attendees:

  1. For the Reference Group, meeting in person is preferred over Zoom as it doesn’t feel natural;  
  2. To have an MC to avoid talking over someone else; ,
  3. Continuity of reference group is requested along with the recap of previous reference group minutes; ,
  4. Regardless of the challenges (technical and those relating to COVID-19) the reference group has worked well; ,
  5. Information from IAA about issues  they frequently come across and various case studies, would be appreciated to grow their industry knowledge; ,
  6. Need for more support in terms of resources such as:
    1. A sample written agreement template would be welcomed.
    2. Participants commented that there needs to be more support for advisers concerning wellbeing, especially as they are struggling from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    3. There has been a struggle to complete CPD activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    4. Whether there can be a person as a point of contact for compliance issues.

In response to the above concerns, the comments were made by the IAA:

  • It is valuable to receive regular feedback to maintain the relationship with  stakeholders. COVID-19 has impacted significantly on the Adviser industry. The Registrar referred to resources available, including the COVID-19 website(external link) and the Business.govt.nz(external link) website.
  • Conducting the reference group virtually has been a very different experience and is a reflection of how technology can support us to do things differently.
  • The Authority has acknowledged the request for a template written agreement to be made available as a resource for Advisers and is under consideration. It was noted that concerns relating to written agreements have been a common issue identified during inspections. The Authority, as a regulatory body, cannot provide legal advice/endorse an adviser’s written agreement. It is expected that advisers must seek independent legal advice if they are not sure whether their written agreements comply with the Code. The Authority has advised there are already resources in place such as the Code of Conduct toolkit which advisers can refer to for guidance.
  • The Authority has acknowledged the need for communications to Advisers about what they are observing with respect to compliance with the Code and CPD requirements. The Authority will consider ways in which they can make this possible. With respect to meeting the CPD requirements as a result of COVID-19, the Authority has communicated its expectations in the Registrar’s May Newsletter and on the FAQ page available on the website.

Closure and next meeting

The meeting ended just after 2.00 pm and Duncan thanked everyone for their attendance and contribution.

This is the last reference group round for this year.

The exact date of the 2021 Reference Group will be in announced in advance.