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Reference group minutes, 25 May 2016

Date: Wednesday, 25 May 2016 10:15am – 3pm

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


Licensed Immigration Advisers – Simon Moore (e-Migration NZ South Island) (NZAMI), Jennifer De Wald-Harrison (Ernst & Young) (NZAIP), Munish Sekhri (Sekhri Immigration), Stephan Du Plessis (Greenstone Global Ltd), Vandana Rai (Immigration Advisers New Zealand Ltd), Asoka Weerasundara (Pro X New Zealand Ltd), Arathi Mohan Tekkam (Sparke Helmore Lawyers), Appley Boyd (Heartland Immigration Ltd)

IAA – Catherine Albiston (Registrar of Immigration Advisers), Philip Anderson (Occupational Licensing Team Leader) and Alexandra Simpson (Senior Technical Advisor), (Minute-takers)

WBOPP – Jeni Fountain, Lynette Steele

MBIE – Anne Yau

INZ – Jade Reid (Relationship Manager INZ Henderson)


Penny Pan, Jianqiang Luo


  1. Welcome
    1. Catherine Albiston, Registrar of Immigration Advisers, welcomed members of the group.
    2. The agenda:
      1. Authority Update
      2. Update on Graduate Diploma in New Zealand Immigration Advice
      3. Discussion on supervision and issues relating to students finding supervisors
      4. English language standard for licensed immigration advisers
      5. Discussion on limits of clerical staff
      6. Open Forum and topics for future meetings  
  2. Authority Update
    1. During the 2015 – 2016 financial year, the Authority has performed as follows in the licensing and investigations space:
      1. There are currently 1082 licensed immigration advisers.
      2. 200 inspection renewals have been completed in which the Authority has requested a client file from an adviser.
      3. 400 fast-track renewal applications have been processed.
      4. 29 complaints are currently on hand. Since 1 July 2015, the Authority has completed 40 complaints, 16 were referred to the Tribunal, and the remaining 24 were closed by the Authority.
      5. 47 offences are currently being investigated.
      6. There has been a successful prosecution against a licensed adviser which has led to a conviction. The court date for sentencing is set for July 2016.
    2. Communications
      1. In March 2016, Catherine travelled to India and met with licensed advisers there and INZ staff in New Delhi and Mumbai. She saw first-hand the prevalence of unlicensed immigration advisers. To combat this problem, INZ in India are undertaking in-depth work identifying when unlicensed advisers are involved and refusing dishonest applicants. From a communications perspective, the visit to India was a success. Good coverage resulted from IAA advertisements and a media release in Punjabi, Hindi and English, as well as interviews.  A social media campaign attracted considerable attention and the advertisements generated a significant number of Facebook hits.
      2. The Authority is also continuing with its campaign in Indian and Filipino New Zealand-based print, online and radio media to raise awareness of licensed immigration advisers.
      3. Two webinars have been held for licensed advisers on the Authority’s new CPD requirements. Over 400 people have attended these webinars with positive feedback having been received.
  3. Update on Graduate Diploma in New Zealand Immigration Advice
    1. Qualification Steering Group meetings are continuing this year to discuss progress on the Graduate Diploma in New Zealand Immigration Advice and review course material as it is developed.
    2. Jeni Fountain, Academic Tutor and Programme Developer at the Waiariki Bay of Plenty Polytechnic presented progress on the Graduate Diploma to the group.
      1. There are 8 courses in the Graduate Diploma and full-time students can complete four courses in each semester while part-time students typically complete two courses each semester. The first four courses are pre-requisites for the second four courses.  Each course takes 8 weeks to complete.
      2. 45 students are currently studying the Graduate Diploma full-time and 20 part-time. 67 students are still completing the Graduate Certificate in New Zealand Immigration Advice. Since January 2016, 5 CPD courses and 2 Refresher courses have been run.
      3. The Graduate Diploma is ensuring that students are better placed to assess where they are at before sitting an exam. Students undertaking the Graduate Diploma tend to be more wary about starting their own business and are generally not thinking about going into business themselves at this stage.
      4. The tutorials are discussion-based in that they encourage interaction between participants. In the online materials, there is narration along with slides and quizzes are inserted which encourages students to learn the material. Study aids are attached to every activity which enable students to practice taking notes.   
      5. The Labour Inspectorate has been working with the Polytechnic to include basic requirements relating to employment law.  
      6. There is a general observation that the calibre of students undertaking the Graduate Diploma is high. 
      7. The Bay of Plenty Polytechnic welcomes Immigration Advisers who are interested in being involved in the qualification who can discuss real life experiences and case scenarios with students. 
      Group Comments
    3. There was positive feedback about the work that has gone into the Graduate Diploma.

      IAA Comments
    4. The Authority encourages Immigration Advisers to contact the Polytechnic if they are interested in providing real life scenarios to be included in the qualification materials. 
  4. Discussion on supervision and issues relating to students finding supervisors
    1. Some uncertainty has been expressed about the difference between supervision and a work placement. A work placement is a course option available to students who are placed in an immigration advice business under the oversight of a licensed immigration adviser. A work placement gives a student the opportunity to observe real life immigration matters.  
    2. A work placement of a student at an immigration adviser’s business could potentially lead to a supervision arrangement with a licensed immigration adviser. Such a placement could help to create trust and build up a relationship between a student and an immigration adviser.    
    3. The Authority acknowledged that it needs to communicate clearly to advisers about the work placement course option that will be available for the first time later this year in around October. There will be a maximum of 45 students looking for a work placement this year which is considered achievable.
    4. It was suggested that students should be able to complete their work placement over the duration of their studies rather than in one course at the end.
    5. There have been some concerns expressed about the perceived difficulties and realities of students finding a supervisor.  The group discussed ideas for linking students and supervisors:
      1. Students could be encouraged to use LinkedIn to create a profile to facilitate a connection with a supervisor. There was not a lot of support for this idea.
      2. The Polytechnic could get students wishing to find a supervisor to post CVs on a page that was made available to licensed advisers. The Polytechnic undertook to look into this. There was more support for this option from the group.
    6. There was a suggestion that some advisers are not fully aware of what supervision involves and that some are not fully prepared for the role. A specific course or workshop could perhaps be designed for supervisors and potential supervisors.     
    7. The Authority encouraged NZAMI, NZAIP and the Polytechnic to consider offering training for prospective supervisors.
    8. Some concern was expressed about the level of supervision fees that some supervisors were charging. 
    9. The Authority noted that complaints can be lodged with the Authority about a supervisor charging excessive fees, preferably with written evidence of the fee such as a quote.  A supervisor must ensure that any fees charged for supervision are fair and reasonable in the circumstances.

      Group Comments
    10. There was general enthusiasm regarding the introduction of the work placement. A successful work placement would more likely result in a supervision agreement with a licensed immigration adviser.     
    11. There was general agreement that a course for supervisors would better equip supervisors and potential supervisors and provide them with some essential knowledge to undertake the role more effectively. A supervision course could possibly contain an ethics refresher course and also involve experienced supervisors.

      English language standard for licensed immigration advisers
    12. The English language competency standard (Competency 5) is a pre-requisite for candidates to enrol in the Graduate Diploma in New Zealand Immigration Advice.
    13. The standard is currently being reviewed and a discussion paper will be sent out to advisers and consumers for wider consultation.
    14. Anne Yau, Senior Advisor, Consumer Policy Team at MBIE discussed some proposals around the review of Competency Standard 5 with the group.  
      1. The purpose of the standard is the need for advisers to understand and interpret often complex legislation and guidance, document files clearly and to communicate effectively, especially in writing.
      2. There are some issues with the list of countries used (for example it does not include Canada, Ireland, and South Africa) from which English schooling is accepted as some countries which possibly should be on the list are not on it. Some applicants from countries considered to be English speaking countries are required to sit a test.
      3. In addition, there have been questions raised about English proficiency and the quality of English schooling in some countries that are on the list. 
      4. The list of countries is not transparent as it is not included in the competency standard itself. Rather, it is included in a Memorandum of Understanding between the Authority and the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic to ensure confidence in the Polytechnic’s administration of the English language criteria.
      5. There has also been some feedback that the quality of written English is sometimes not of the required standard despite a person having met the IELTS requirement.
      6. A good English competency standard should be transparent, fair and equitable and easy to administer. The standard should also align with Australia due to the TTMRA where appropriate and be of a comparable standard.
      7. There was a suggestion that successful completion of the Pearson Test of English (PTE) should also be included in the English language competency standard. PTE is a test of English that is internationally accepted by some countries and organisations to demonstrate English ability.
      8. One option is that there should be a mandatory English language test for all applicants regardless of their country of origin or first language. If the requirement was the same for everybody then it would not be seen as being discriminatory for some people. It was highlighted that Nurses coming to New Zealand must all complete an IELTS Test and achieve at least an overall score of 7.0.      
      9. There was also discussion about whether having a mandatory English language test for all applicants could be seen as putting up barriers for new entrants. The Bay of Plenty Polytechnic could perhaps be given more discretion to consider applications demonstrating English competency on a case by case basis.
      10. Another option discussed was an applicant completing a Bachelor degree of at least 3 years’ duration with English as a language of instruction plus 3 years’ of either one or a combination of secondary schooling, postgraduate studies or employment while in certain English speaking countries or provinces. There was however some debate about whether the 3 years in addition to an applicant having a Bachelor degree was sufficient.
      Group Comments
    15. There was discussion around increasing the minimum IELT English language test scores. However, there was general concurrence amongst the group that the overall score should remain at 7.0 as it aligns with other professional bodies.
    16. There was a strong view from some group members that all applicants be required to undergo a mandatory English test.

      IAA Comments
    17. The Authority would be grateful to get wider input about the consultation document and advisers and their colleagues are encouraged to provide feedback.
  5. Open Forum and topics for future meetings  
    1. Jade Reid, Relationship Manager at INZ Henderson provided the group with some background information about her new role. She will be a regular attendee at future Reference Group meetings.   
    2. It was requested that the link to the IAA website on INZ’s new website be at a higher level.
    3. It was commented that IAA comms have been good this year, but that INZ comms to advisers needs to improve.
    4. Concern was expressed that the Education New Zealand website still refers to ENZRA when the scheme is under review and advisers cannot join.
    5. The annual Adviser Satisfaction Survey will be sent out to advisers during June. The survey will be seeking feedback on the Authority’s service over the past year.
    6. The agenda item of Discussion on limits of clerical staff will be discussed at the next meeting.
    7. An update on results from inspections renewals will also be provided at the next meeting.  
    8. The Authority will run a webinar on supervision and there will be ongoing discussions about supervision at further meetings. 
    9. Catherine thanked the group for attending the meeting