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Reference group minutes, 21 March 2018

Date: Wednesday 21 March 2018, 10:15am – 3pm

Place: Immigration Advisers Authority, Level 2, 52 Symonds Street, Auckland


Licensed Immigration Advisers – Jaqueline Chong (PWC, Auckland), Harris Gu (TDA Immigration and Student Services, Auckland), Zinny Cheng (Working International Visas Ltd, Auckland), Pengbo Jiang (Bank of China, Auckland), Chetan Rudra (Cross Country Recruitment, Hamilton), Peter Ryan (Capital Immigration Services NZ Limited, Wellington), Matt Fistonich (PWC, Wellington, NZAIP), Tim Malcom (A1 Immigration, NZAMI), Samaria Thompson (Turbo Staff Ltd, Christchurch), Yashpal Erda (TEG Immigration, Sydney)

IAA – Catherine Albiston (Registrar of Immigration Advisers) (Chair), Philip Anderson (IAA), Sara Kaur (Senior Business Administrator) (Minute- taker)

INZ - Jade Reid


  1. Welcome
    1. Catherine Albiston, Registrar of the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA), welcomed the reference group members.
    2. Catherine noted that this is a forum for licensed advisers to raise matters for discussion with the IAA. It is important that the IAA is connected to practitioners and hears their views. She noted that we cannot deal with individual cases in this forum, or INZ or other agency matters, and we need the active participation of advisers for this to be a success.
    3. All members introduced themselves.
    4. The agenda:
      1. Introductions
      2. Authority updates
      3. Open forum – topics for discussion by this Reference Group
      4. CPD (TBC pending item (iii))
      5. Communications initiatives (TBC pending item (iii)).
  2. Authority Update
    1. Catherine noted that the IAA is focused on reducing unlawful immigration advice and increasing the standard of immigration advice consumers receive. We want migrant communities and key sectors to be aware of the licensing requirements. We want to be taking influential enforcement action to help increase this awareness and hold offenders to account. We want to have a trusted relationship with licensed advisers by setting standards at the right level and taking appropriate action. We want to maintain a high quality licensing system including identifying issues before they become a complaint and dealing with complaints quickly and at the right level.
    2. Catherine reported on current numbers as follows:
      1. There are currently 1055 licensed immigration advisers, with 73% onshore and 27% offshore. One member asked what countries offshore advisers were located in and Catherine reported that as at 30 June 2017, there were 169 in Australia, 40 in India, 18 in the United Kingdom, 15 in China, 9 in the Philippines, 7 in South Africa, 5 in Malaysia and 44 in the rest of the world.
      2. There are currently 209 provisional licence holders and 156 supervisors.
      3. We have received 113 new licence applications since 1 July 2017, which is similar but slightly down on this time last year. 98% have been processed within 15 working days.
      4. We have received 21 upgrade applications since 1 July 2017.
      5. We have received 88 inspection renewals since 1 July 2017, with 87% processed within 25 working days.
      6. We have received 51 complaints about licensed advisers since 1 July 2017 (compared to 45 this time last year). 49 have been completed, with 29 referred to the Tribunal and 20 closed by the IAA. We currently have 41 complaints on hand. 100% of complaints completed that were received since 1 July 2017 have been processed in 115 working days.
      7. One member asked how many complaints about licensed advisers had been received from Immigration New Zealand (INZ). Catherine reported that in total 45 complaints had been received by INZ since the Authority’s inception.
      8. We have received 32 reports of offending since 1 July 2017, around half of what we had received this time last year. We have taken three prosecutions, issued 29 warning letters and we have 35 current investigations on hand.
    3. Since 1 July 2017, the IAA has run four awareness campaigns:
      1. Awareness campaigns in India and Philippines were a success. Combined, the advertisements reached a million people. Nearly 70,000 of those engaged with the resources on the IAA website.
      2. International students in New Zealand: We reached over 130,000 on Facebook during 2017. We used Sky Kiwi and Wechat for the first time.
      3. We are currently running a construction sector campaign which is about to wrap up. The campaign is using both paid and unpaid approaches. The paid approach is using Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Adwords. The unpaid approach is using MBIE contacts to reach key stakeholders in the construction sector and get articles in sector magazines. So far, the campaign has reached over 80,000 people across the range of channels being used. Our ads have engaged with over 6,000 people and sent over 4,500 through to the IAA website.
    4. On Continuous Professional Development (CPD):
      1. 383 advisers attended the Supervision webinar in February. Around 550 are scheduled for the May webinar and another 350 for the ones later in the year.
      2. Catherine noted that the focus was to drive down the number of complaints received by the Authority and to improve the standard of immigration advice consumer receive. Hence, the webinars will be based on the most common issues identified around the code of conduct.
    5. IAA website refresh
      1. The IAA’s website (non-portal pages) is being moved to a new platform with a refreshed look in mid-May. Catherine noted that the new website will be mobile and tablet friendly. Catherine showed the group the designs and the general feedback was positive.
  3. Open forum – topics for discussion by this Reference Group
    1. All members were given the opportunity to raise the topics they would like to discuss over the course of the Reference Group meetings in 2018. The topics identified for discussion were:
      1. Initiatives to raise awareness about the licensing requirements including in China and India, the HR/recruitment sector, the travel sector and the education sector.
      2. The current review of the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007.
      3. Licensing entry standards, continual improvement of the Graduate Diploma in New Zealand Immigration Advice, and the standards for advisers licensed pre-qualification.
      4. Supervision, including incentivising supervisors, the quality of supervision and offshore supervision.
      5. Issues with offshore licensed advisers with exempt staff dealing with student visas, and the offshore student market generally.
      6. Complaints issues, including the language barrier for complainants to complete a complaint form where they do not speak or write English, concerns about INZ making complaints, concerns about the IAA identifying grounds of complaint that were not raised by the complainant (particularly where the original complaint was made due to a change in INZ practice), and how there can be better reporting for advisers on the nature of complaints (including grounds and onshore/offshore).
      7. Concerns with immigration advice businesses with large numbers of clerical staff and only one or two licensed advisers, concern with lawyers’ staff providing immigration advice with no supervision.
      8. Concerns with rubber stamping and INZ accepting applications from unlicensed staff.
      9. What can licensed advisers do when they see poor quality work completed by other licensed advisers.
      10. CPD, in particular options for offshore advisers who feel isolated.
    2. It was agreed that the Act review would be discussed today, given the timing on the consultation process for that. It was also agreed to discuss the CPD matters.
  4. Act review
    1. The members were provided with a copy of the Act review consultation document. Catherine read through each of the proposals and clarified the scope of the proposals where there were questions.
    2. Generally members noted that they would provide their views through the formal submission process.
    3. The following points were made:
      1. The consultation document was too brief and didn’t explain clearly enough the proposals. It really needed to be read in conjunction with the Martin Jenkins report.
      2. The NZAMI representative expressed concerns regarding the definition of immigration advice, and noted that unlicensed immigration advice is being provided under the guise of “publicly available information”.
      3. Catherine noted that this issue had not been a major concern in any of the prosecutions so far. Catherine pointed to the case where unlicensed immigration advice was provided over the radio and noted that the court judgement was useful as a guide to differentiate between immigration advice and publicly available information.
      4. Some members considered alternative disputes resolution could be of merit and should be pursued.
      5. There was general agreement to proposal 1.1 to clarify that persons are prohibited from applying for a licence for the duration of a suspension order or the duration of an order preventing the person from reapplying for a licence made by the Tribunal.
      6. In regard to proposal 1.2 on removing the 12 month stand down preventing former INZ officers from being licensed as immigration advisers, the NZAMI representative noted that NZAMI views were split on this.
      7. In regard to proposal 1.4 on strengthening the Registrar’s discretion to take into account other matters relevant to determining a person’s fitness to be licensed, the NZAMI representative noted that NZAMI views were split on this.
      8. There was general agreement to proposal 1.7 to clarify that interim court orders obtained to allow immigration advisers to continue to provide advice act as a stay on the order or decision being appealed.
      9. There was general agreement to proposal 2.2 to give power to the Tribunal to vary a full licence to a limited or provisional licence.
      10. There was general agreement to proposal 2.3 to clarify appeal rights to the District court.
      11. The NZAMI representative expressed some concern about proposal 3.4 to remove the two-year stand down period from INZ staff being employed by the Authority on the basis that they considered former INZ staff may be biased against licensed advisers.
    4. No other matters relating to the Act review were raised.
  5. CPD
    1. The offshore representative expressed concern that there were no face-to-face CPD opportunities for licensed advisers around the world and noted that there should be greater CPD support for offshore licensed advisers.
    2. The IAA and various members noted that many of the CPD opportunities available to New Zealand-based licensed advisers are also available to offshore advisers such as the IAA’s webinars, NZAMI live streaming events and recordings, study groups which are hosted around the world and any licensed adviser can initiate, supervision and mentoring (whether giving or receiving), and a range of courses run by local establishments on topics like communication or how to run a business. A member added that MARA agents can use their relevant Australian CPD hours towards their New Zealand CPD.
    3. A number of members gave positive feedback regarding study groups and considered them very useful.
    4. Catherine noted that TTMRA advisers may choose to undertake the Graduate Diploma in New Zealand Immigration advice part-time as part of their CPD.
    5. A member noted that the Authority should look onto spreading awareness in Australia just like India and China, as many people look into New Zealand as an option if they are unable to extend their visa in Australia.
    6. INZ noted that consideration is currently being given to how to run adviser seminars in the future with the closure of Henderson branch.
    7. Catherine noted that the CPD framework is designed to allow advisers to identify their own learning needs and the development opportunities that are of most value to them.
    8. Catherine noted that the IAA needs to continue to educate offshore advisers on the CPD framework.
    9. A number of members noted that the CPD framework was working for them.
    10. Members were asked for their feedback on the IAA’s webinars and there was no substantive feedback.


The next meeting is on 23 May 2018. Catherine noted that Toi Ohomai is likely to visit at the next meeting and the agenda can include discussion on the qualification and entry standards; as well as raising awareness.

Catherine thanked everyone for their time and contributions today.