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Reference group minutes, 23 May 2018

Date: Wednesday 23 May 2018, 10:15am – 3pm

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


Licensed Immigration Advisers – Jaqueline Chong (PWC, 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), June Ranson (Woburn International, NZAMI), Samaria Thompson (Turbo Staff Ltd, Christchurch), Jonathan Adams (Study Life Pte. Ltd, Singapore)

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

INZ – Jade Reid, Rob Perry

Guests – Jeni Fountain and Appley Boyd (Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology)

Apologies – Harris Gu (TDA Immigration and Student Services, Auckland)


  1. Welcome
    1. Catherine Albiston, Registrar of the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA), welcomed the reference group members. All members introduced themselves.
    2. The agenda:
      1. IAA update and open forum
      2. Update from Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology and discussion on the Graduate Diploma in New Zealand Immigration Advice
      3. Supervision
      4. Communications initiatives for the year ahead.
  2. Authority update and open forum
    Budget package
    1. Catherine noted the IAA has successfully received additional funding announced in the Budget. Minister of Immigration, Hon Iain Lees-Galloway, announced that “Budget 2018 also provides $5.6 million of new operating funding over the next four years to enable the Immigration Advisers Authority to target unlawful immigration advice. This will also reduce risks of migrant exploitation by increasing the quality of immigration advice.”  
    2. The additional funding will allow the IAA to to take smart and deliberate action to reduce unlawful immigration advice and increase the standard of immigration advice consumers receive.
    3. This initiative is intended to improve the standard of immigration advice consumers receive by reducing the time taken to deal with complaints about licensed advisers and providing targeted education to licensed advisers to reduce complaints.
    4. It is intended to allow the Authority to more effectively raise awareness of the licensing requirements among vulnerable communities to reduce the use of unlicensed advisers and ensure the Authority can take more effective enforcement action against unlicensed advisers in the long term.
    5. This funding will be fully recovered from the Immigration Levy.
  3. IAA website
    1. Catherine noted that the IAA’s new website is now live. Some members noted it seemed to be a positive improvement.
  4. INZ expiry emails
    1. Catherine noted that INZ is now sending reminder emails to temporary visa holders 45, 23 and 12 days before the visa expires and 44 days after visa expiry. The IAA’s message that if a person is seeking immigration advice, they must use a licensed immigration adviser or exempt person has been included in these emails. This is a great achievement as it reaches every temporary visa holder at a time they may be thinking about getting immigration advice.
  5. IAA numbers
    1. Catherine reported on current numbers as follows:
      1. There are currently 1066 licensed immigration advisers, with 74% onshore and 26% offshore. We seem to be seeing a gradual decrease in the proportion of offshore advisers.
      2. There are currently 215 provisional licence holders and 156 supervisors.
      3. We have received 30 upgrade applications since 1 July 2017.
      4. We have received 101 inspection renewals since 1 July 2017, with 86% processed within 25 working days.
      5. We have received 66 complaints about licensed advisers since 1 July 2017 (compared to 55 this time last year). 64 have been completed, with 33 referred to the Tribunal and 31 closed by the IAA. We currently have 38 complaints on hand. 100% of complaints completed that were received since 1 July 2017 have been processed in 115 working days. At 30 April, there were 65 complaints on hand at the Tribunal.
      6. At the last meeting, you asked for more detailed statistical information advisers complained about. At 27 March, we had received 55 complaints about licensed advisers since 1 July 2017. Of those 7 (13%) were offshore advisers and 35 (64%) were licensed prior to 2013 when the qualification became mandatory. 
      7. We have received 44 reports of offending since 1 July 2017, down on last year. We have taken three prosecutions, issued 39 warning letters and we have 35 current investigations on hand.
    2. Members made the following comments:
      1. One member suggested the IAA publish adviser approval and decline rates and also IAA warnings regarding unlicensed advice. One suggested the IAA undertake mystery shopper exercises. It was also suggested the IAA could inform INZ about our warnings. One member highlighted that migration advisers who are also acting as recruitment agents charge manpower fees higher than visa agents. It was suggested that the total fees from clients be published (as an average) from licensed advisers who are also recruiters.
      2. One member requested statistics on how many applications INZ refused due to an unlicensed adviser being involved. INZ noted that mostly these would not be declared.
  6. CPD
    1. 383 advisers attended the Supervision webinar in February. 536 attended the May webinar and another 400 are registered for the ones later in the year.
    2. Members generally noted positive feedback on the webinars. One noted that it was positive for unlicensed administrative staff to hear as well. One hour was considered a good length. One member suggested that it would be good for the IAA to offer more frequent webinars.
  1. Update from Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology
    1. Appley Boyd and Jeni Fountain introduced themselves.
    2. Appley Boyd - LLB(hons), BA, GCNZIA, Licence holder 201400745, Programme Manager Immigration. Appley manages the teaching team and students within the GDNZIA and the Refresher programme, and teaches on these programmes.  She coordinates GDNZIA work placements, and shares any advertisements from industry for jobs and/or supervision opportunities.  Appley is located in Christchurch and is the Director of Star Immigration.  She previously worked at INZ for six years, and a mid-sized immigration advice firm.
    3. Jeni Fountain - LLM, LLB (hons), BEd, DipTchg, Practising Certificate 018304, Group Manager Legal Studies. Jeni manages the Legal Studies Group at Toi Ohomai Insitute of Technology consisting of the Graduate Diploma in New Zealand Immigration Advice, the Immigration Refresher programme, the New Zealand Diploma of Legal Executive Studies, the Diploma of Conveyancing and the New Zealand Certificate in Real Estate (salesperson).  She coordinates GDNZIA industry placements. Jeni is located in Tauranga.  She has been involved with the immigration advice qualification since its inception, developing the Graduate Certificate in New Zealand Immigration Advice, previous CPD modules, the Refresher programme and the graduate Diploma in New Zealand Immigration Advice. 
    4. The current staff on the GDNZIA are Appley Boyd; 201400745; Sally Forbes; 201300173; Viliame Naliva; LLB, completing LLM; Catherine deMonchy; 201600959; David Mills; 201500789; Sarah Das; 201503612 and Jeni Fountain; LLM, LLB. Jeni noted that it is important from the Institutes that they have industry teaching to ensure the programme continues to be relevant.
    5. There are currently 225 students enrolled into the GDNZIA.  This is a mix of new students this semester, and others working through the qualification on a part-time basis.  Some students are already licensed advisers, or are already employed in the industry.
    6. There are nine courses that make up the GDNZIA.  Each course has a 15 credit weighting, and on successful completion of eight courses (students choose either LAWS7018 or LAWS7019) a student is eligible to graduate. Content coverage of the qualification is in line with the Immigration Advisers Competency Standards.  Course content is updated each new delivery period and during delivery when specific changes to immigration instructions occur.
    7. The content is sequential in nature, with the first courses building up to the later courses.  The final four courses cannot be started unless the first four have been successfully completed.  This delivery is intended for students to be introduced to necessary content, then for this to be become more complex the further through the programme.
    8. Jeni noted that their biggest concern is keeping the programme current. Having advisers on staff is helpful. They also meet with INZ and advisers in this forum and so they are aware of common concerns. They receive all IACs and notifications just as advisers do and are constantly reviewing the courses. The programme is not static.
    9. Exercises from the LAWS6015, LAWS7013, LAWS7015, LAWS7016 and LAWS7017 courses were shared with the Reference Group. They emphasised that the exercises use repetition to build knowledge and to ensure the learning is progressive.
    10. Each course consists of two coursework/internal assessments totalling 50%, and an exam totalling 50%.  A mark of 60% is required in every examination in order to pass.  Those students who score between 50% and 59% in an exam may re-sit at the next course offering (they do not have to re-enrol into the course).  Examinations are sat in a variety of venues across New Zealand, and for overseas students, examinations are conducted online with an invigilator watching them live from New Zealand.
    11. Assessed tasks are changed each semester and examination scripts are not publicly released. Samples of exams were shared with the Reference Group. They noted that for exams some scenarios are provided one week in advance of the exam so that the person can research it. The particular question about the scenario, however, is only given in the exam.
    12. Appley shared an example of one assessment in the Specialised Areas course which involved preparing an appeal application and submissions to the Immigration Protection Tribunal. They liaised with the IPT to develop this exercise; they also got examples of submissions from licensed advisers.
    13. Appley noted that assessments have become more complex with scenarios and mock documentation and the student is required to contact ‘the client’ (the tutor) and request further information. If they miss this step they will be disadvantaged in the next step in the assessment process. In many places throughout the courses if they miss an activity they don’t get access to the next activity.
    14. Jeni thanked those advisers who allow their staff to study part-time as it is really hard for students to work full-time and study full-time.
    15. One member noted that some of the topics they teach such as partnership issues and eligibility assessments would be idea for short courses / CPD.
    16. One member asked about how much emphasis is on the quality of English communication and noted concerns around this. Toi Ohomai noted that communicating in professional English is a learning outcome in every course. They also noted that this was a concern that had been raised with them by Immigration New Zealand. In light of this feedback they will be giving consideration to how they can better consider the weighting of English language in their assessments.
    17. It was suggested that professional communication in English could be added as a specific component to the programme and also that it could be developed as a stand-alone short course or CPD module.
    18. Toi Ohomai noted that the change in the English language competency standard in 2016, which included raising the IELTS writing standard to 7.0, has definitely had an impact, excluding some before they start.
    19. IAA was asked how they dealt with English language issues at inspections. IAA noted that this was not such a common problem as no written records of communications. Issues with poor communications generally will be dealt with under the relevant competency standard (usually 3, 4 or 6).
    20. Toi Ohomai was asked whether they were adapting their materials to reflect INZ online applications and they noted that online exercises were being progressively introduced.
  2. Supervision
    1. Toi Ohomai noted that they get a lot of questions about supervision. They noted that students are very enthusiastic about supervision. Once they enter into supervision they find it hugely valuable and consider that two years is not too long.
    2. Toi Ohomai noted that good students find supervisors easily and wait to find the right supervisor. The avenues they use to find supervisors include through work, an acquaintance, through direct contact themselves, or sometimes the Institute connects them.
    3. Some members raised the concerns about the quality of supervision, the importance of developing trust in the relationship and the difficulty of achieving this with distance supervision. Questions were asked regarding how the supervisor could be vetted before they became a supervisor, for example by looking at their track record with INZ.
    4. It was suggested that there is an opportunity for a CPD course on supervision to be developed.
    5. The IAA noted that they seek both good and bad distance supervision, and the issue was not distance but the quality of the supervision. The IAA is inspecting supervision records and looking to take action where poor supervision is taking place.
    6. One member asked about supervision fees and the IAA noted that it is taking action where it sees fees that are potentially unreasonable. The IAA noted that often matters with fees are resolved when there is greater clarity on what is actually being charged for and what service is being provided.
    7. One member asked what was happening to students who couldn’t find a supervisor. The IAA noted that there are 215 provisional licence holder and 156 supervisors which is higher than projected when mandatory supervision was introduced which indicates a fairly high level of take up.
    8. Some members noted their view that supervisors should have a lot of experience and that just two years of being licensed wasn’t enough.
  3. Communications initiatives for the year ahead
    1. A social media campaign in Brazil, Colombia and Chile is due to run in June.
    2. We have had our Guide to Licensed Advisers translated into Taglish, and this is currently being designed.
    3. The group discussed ideas for the IAA’s communications programme for the year ahead.
    4. Ideas supported included the following:
      1. A focus on onshore employers and HR professionals.
      2. A China campaign, targeted both in China and to Chinese nationals in New Zealand.
      3. Repeat social media campaigns in India, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Tonga, Fiji, and Samoa, South Africa, plus these nationalities already here in New Zealand
      4. Repeat social media campaigns targeting international students already in New Zealand plus reaching international student departments in schools.
      5. Translating our Guides into Thai, Spanish, Japanese, Vietnamese and Portuguese.
      6. Creating videos to support the campaigns.


The next meeting is on 8 August 2018. Based on the topics requested at the first meeting, the tentative agenda for the August meeting includes a broad discussion on matters relating to complaints and investigations. One member noted they would like to cover the topic of rubberstamping at the August meeting.

The October meeting will have a follow up visit from Toi Ohomai and a discussion on what the mandatory CPD should be in place for 2019.

Several members thanked Catherine for her work in the role and Catherine thanked everyone for their time and contributions and wished them all the best for their futures.