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Reference group minutes, 29 November 2017

Date: Wednesday 29 November 2017, 10:15am – 3pm

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


Licensed Immigration Advisers – Nassim Lalehzari (Working International, Auckland), Shannon Proudman (Fragomen, Auckland), Matthew Fistonich (Ernst & Young Ltd, Wellington), Arun Jacob (AJV Services, Hamilton), Ava Sanchez (Neilson Immigration Consultants, Palmerston North), Carol Wright (Greenstone Global, Hamilton), June Ranson (Woburn International Limited, Wellington)

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

INZ - Jade Reid and Michelle Frankham

ENZ - Paul Irwin and Dan Smidt

Toi Ohomai - Peter Richardson and Jeni Fountain


Philip Anderson (Technical Team Leader, IAA), Fahim Gul (Success Global, Wellington), Tim Malcolm (A1 Immigration, Auckland), Sally Lisle (Fragomen, Auckland), Karen Phillips (Work Study Live New Zealand, United Kingdom)


  1. Welcome
    1. Catherine Albiston, Registrar of the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA), welcomed the reference group members.
    2. The agenda:
      1. Authority updates and open forum.
      2. IAA website update.
      3. Discussion on Graduate Diploma in New Zealand Immigration Advice with Toi Ohomai guests.
      4. INZ update with INZ guests.
      5. Discussion on international education issues with Education New Zealand guests.
  2. Authority Updates and Open Forum
    1. Catherine reported on current numbers as follows
      1. There are currently 1056 licensed immigration advisers, with 70% onshore and 30% offshore.
      2. There are currently 198 provisional licence holders and 143 supervisors.
      3. The Authority has received 34 complaints against licensed immigration advisers since 1 July 2017.
    1. A member recommended that education agents should be required to hold a limited licence to deal with student visas. The member added that he has encountered various incidents where unlicensed immigration advice has been provided to international students by educational institutes. Catherine requested that this information be provided to the Authority.
    2. Catherine provided an update on the IAA’s awareness campaigns as follows:
      1. The IAA has worked collaboratively with Education NZ (ENZ) and NZQA to raise awareness among education providers that they cannot provide immigration advice. Catherine attended an ENZ conference in August 2017 and recently IAA articles have been published by NZQA and ENZ targeting education providers.
      2. A repeat of the international student campaign was launched on 27 November targeting recent graduates. Facebook, WeChat, and Skykiwi are being used.
      3. The recent awareness campaign in India and Philippines has been a success. The advertisements reached a million people. Nearly 70,000 of those engaged with the resources on the IAA website.
      4. A new awareness campaign will be launched in early 2018 targeting the construction sector in New Zealand.
      5. In 2018 a social media campaign is being planned for the South American market.
    3. Catherine recapped the discussion from the last reference group meeting regarding Continuous Professional Development (CPD):
      1. Catherine noted the group’s view that it should be mandatory to attend one IAA webinar each year. As a result from next year attending one webinar will be a mandatory CPD requirement. The webinar will be repeated a number of times throughout the year. Catherine welcomed any suggestions and feedback.
      2. A member suggested that, to overcome any technical issues during the live webinars, the webinars should be pre-recorded. Once the pre-recorded webinar has finished, IAA can begin answering the questions raised.
      3. More than 300 people attended the most recent webinar and the feedback has been very positive.
      4. Catherine acknowledged 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. The mandatory webinar for the coming year is likely to be based on client engagement and communication. Catherine welcomed any feedback and suggestion regarding the topic.
      6. Catherine asked for feedback and suggestions from the group regarding the frequency of the reference group meetings in a year, as well as the structure of the meeting. The general feedback was that five meetings in a year are fine. Catherine noted that the current practice of having a different offshore adviser for each meeting is working well.
      7. Catherine asked for feedback and suggestions from the group regarding the monthly newsletter. The general feedback was very positive.
      8. A member suggested that monthly newsletter should highlight the key achievements and discussions of the reference group.
  1. IAA Website Update
    1. Catherine noted that the IAA’s website needed to move to a new platform to ensure it was supported. This requires a new template for the design of the website, with the exception of those parts of the website housed in the secure portal such as the register and adviser application forms.
    2. Aaron Moore presented on the proposed IAA website homepage and information architecture. This was followed by a discussion amongst the group which provided useful suggestions and feedback. Aaron noted that the new website will be mobile and tablet friendly.
    3. Catherine noted that the content of the website will remain the same, but there will be changes to the homepage, the design and the information architecture.
    4. The general feedback from the group was very positive.
  2. Discussion on Graduate Diploma in New Zealand Immigration Advice with Toi Ohomai guests.
    1. Catherine welcomed Peter Richardson and Jeni Fountain from Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology.
    2. Peter acknowledged that there has been a recent restructure in the faculty of business and legal studies at Toi Ohomai, and Jeni Fountain has been appointed as the Group Manager for Legal Studies.
    3. There are currently 110 full time equivalent students enrolled in the Graduate Diploma for Immigration Advice. 85 percent are domestic students and 15 percent are international.
    4. The general enrolment and pass rates for the two semesters for 2017 were discussed. The total number of graduates for 2017 is 36. Many students who began their studies full-time have moved to part-time study.
    5. A proposal for a January summer school is being considered.
    6. Jeni gave a comprehensive account of the curriculum - especially course LAWS7017, and the way the course is being delivered.
    7. It was noted that a formal Qualification Steering Group appeared to be no longer required as the regular Reference Group consultation fulfils this role.
  3. INZ Update
    1. Michelle Frankham spoke to the group about the newly agreed INZ operating model - its background, benefits and the decision making process undertaken leading to its formation. It is expected to take around two years before it is fully in place.
    2. The new model is built around five sector business streams - business, education, tourism, community and specialist. The new product model and the location of the branches dealing with the streams was discussed.
    3. Michelle spoke briefly about the closure of 13 processing branches around the world and mentioned that the decision regarding the London branch will be made in December 2017. INZ will continue to retain risk and verification units at various locations.
    4. The general feedback from the group regarding the updates was quite positive.
  4. Discussion on international education issues with Education New Zealand guests
    1. Catherine welcomed Paul Irwin and Dan Smidt from Education New Zealand.  
    2. Paul gave an overview of Education New Zealand and their work with education providers, peak government bodies, and students.
    3. Paul acknowledged that student experience is very important to improve the international education market. As such the ‘Auckland Agencies Group’ was set up, which is working with a range of agencies to lift the student experience.
    4. A draft international education strategy has been prepared and was open for consultation. Feedback on the strategy is being considered at the moment.
    5. It was noted that education agents often provide the first experience to any student planning to study abroad. ENZ as part of its role to promote New Zealand as an international education destination, developed the ENZ Recognised Agency (ENZRA) programme. ENZ is working with these education agents to help grow the value of international education to New Zealand (as a marketing tool, not a regulatory tool).
    6. Currently there are nearly 400 ENZRA agencies. Dan acknowledged that education agents play a major role in attracting international students to the New Zealand education market. As such ENZ’s involvement in agent interaction is very important. ENZ is still working on the extend of involvement and the role they may play. The ENZRA scheme is not designed to supersede licensed immigrations advisers. Education agents can only provide immigration advice if offshore and advising on student visas only.
    7. A group member suggested that, like the US, New Zealand should offer international students work experience as a part of their studies so that they are gaining an international qualification as well as work experience simultaneously, which would make New Zealand a very attractive destination for international students.
    8. Dan acknowledged that ENZ has been looking at research and insights in this area. They have done a recent student experience study and found that student satisfaction is dependent on the relevant work experience they get while they are in New Zealand. Dan mentioned that ENZ is currently working on a brand positioning strategy. New Zealand being English speaking and a safe country is nice, but often not the first choice for international students. The strategy is looking to promote New Zealand as a unique destination in many other ways.
    9. Catherine mentioned that she has recently been involved with NZQA in developing a tool for education providers to help them better manage education agents.

Catherine thanked everyone for being a part of the reference group and acknowledged that it has been very engaging and useful.