September 2016 newsletter
It has come to my attention that some licensed advisers may consider they are exempt from their obligations when providing immigration advice about student visas offshore. This is not the case.
Licensed advisers working outside of New Zealand cannot “choose” to be exempt for the purpose of a student visa application. Once an adviser is licensed they must abide by the Code of Conduct and all their obligations as a licensed adviser in regard to all immigration advice and assistance they provide.
Similarly, working with an exempt agent does not excuse a licensed adviser from fulfilling all of their obligations under the Code of Conduct in respect of a client.
I encourage advisers to take care to assure themselves that they are fulfilling all of their Code obligations in regard to student visa applicants. Being a licensed adviser assures your client that you are meeting high standards. Honouring these standards protects not only your client, but the reputation of all licensed immigration advisers.
On another note, I would like to reiterate my encouragement to all advisers to seek legal assistance if you have a complaint made to the Authority. How you respond to the Authority and the Tribunal is very important for yourself and your business; having objective, professional assistance may help.
Registrar of Immigration Advisers
New English language standard
The Minister of Immigration has approved a new English language standard for new licensed immigration advisers. Thank you to all who contributed to the consultation process.
The key changes to the standard are:
- Transparently listing the countries from which English schooling and tertiary study is accepted;
- Limiting listed countries to: Australia, Canada (except Quebec province), Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States;
- Introducing an additional pathway recognising tertiary study in a listed country;
- Increasing the minimum score for the writing sub-test one step (IELTS 6.5 to 7 and equivalents) to reflect the need for better competency in writing; and
- Adding the Pearson Test of English Academic to the list of accepted English language tests.
Many advisers wished to see all advisers complete a mandatory English test. They preferred a measurable and equitable indicator of English competency.
On balance, however, it was considered that requiring English speakers from the countries listed to complete a test would impose an unnecessary cost and time compliance burden for a significant proportion of applicants. There are no concerns with the English competency of the people from the countries listed.
It is considered that the agreed changes are more transparent and consistent than the current standard. They recognise the English proficiency of people who have studied in their formative years, or for a longer period at tertiary level, in the listed countries. They also strengthen the prescribed tests by requiring a higher level of competence in writing.
The new standard comes into effect from 1 October 2016 and will apply to all new students enrolling in the Graduate Diploma in New Zealand Immigration Advice. The new standard will not apply to existing advisers, or those who have already enrolled in or completed an approved qualification.
What’s good about supervision?
Can you remember the first time you assisted a client? The first few new visa types you advised on? Many new advisers have been through this experience alone. For those who have had a supervisor or mentor, the experience would have been quite different.
Having someone to test a view with, and bounce ideas off, builds confidence for the new adviser. It can cement what they thought they knew or help them see a fresh perspective. Talking with a supervisor can help a new adviser learn the soft skills required to ensure the client has a positive overall experience.
In the first year of being licensed a person may only have a relatively small number of clients. Being able to talk to a supervisor about each of these will build their knowledge and confidence. Over a period of two years, an adviser can expect to be able to discuss a wide range of clients with their supervisor giving them a solid fountain from which to work alone.
Being a supervisor can be very rewarding also. Essentially you are being a teacher, a mentor.
Often we do what we do without really thinking about how. When we teach someone, it requires us to slow down and observe all the steps that are required, all the things that need to be considered. Often through teaching, we have insights and observations that help us do the work better ourselves. You may find you don’t know the answers to every question you get asked, and this prompts you to learn something you didn’t know.
You also get to feel the palpable reward of the adviser being grateful for your help. When this translates into the person being a better adviser, you are also helping their clients.
Interested in becoming a supervisor?
If so, please consider attending the Authority’s webinar designed for all licensed advisers who are considering becoming a supervisor or are currently a supervisor.
Supervising a provisional licence holder
Wednesday 14 September 2016 from 3pm-5pm NZST.
This webinar will talk through the Supervision Toolkit and cover what it means to be a good supervisor from the Authority’s point of view.
Please register for this webinar here
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
Supervisors who are looking for a provisional licence applicant to supervise can advertise directly to the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic’s students.
Advertisements must contain the following information:
- name and contact details of the company or organisation (on company letterhead)
- name and details of the contact person
- description of the supervision being offered (including location)
- description of the type of person required
- dates e.g. when posted, when applications close, potential start date (optional).
This type of advertisement will be posted on the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic’s student programme page.
If you are interested in supervising a new provisional licence holder, please email this information to firstname.lastname@example.org
Raising awareness of licensed immigration advisers
In August, the Authority had a booth at the New Zealand International Education Conference, attended by over 600 education providers and agents.
It’s really important that education providers and agents are aware that to provide New Zealand immigration advice, they need to be either licensed or exempt. We find that many education providers and education agents without a licence are unsure of what they can and cannot say when it comes to immigration. Our role is to provide them with information, so they know where the line is drawn.
Conferences like the NZIEC provide a great opportunity to do this, and also allow us to directly answer any questions people may have.
We also attended two Pacific community meetings, in Timaru and Porirua, to raise awareness of the importance of using an immigration adviser who is licensed or exempt.
CPD webinar available as a video
The Waiariki Bay of Plenty Polytechnic (the Polytechnic) is offering one scholarship in 2017 for a student of the Graduate Diploma in New Zealand Immigration Advice (Graduate Diploma) who intends to provide New Zealand immigration advice on a not-for-profit basis while working or volunteering for a not-for-profit organisation in New Zealand.
The scholarship will cover the student’s domestic tuition fees for one year for the Graduate Diploma.
Before applying to the Polytechnic for the scholarship, the applicant must have their not-for-profit status pre-approved by the Authority.
Applicants wishing to apply for a scholarship for 2017 must apply to the Authority for pre-approval by 1 October 2016.
Did you know…?
Licensed advisers working outside of New Zealand cannot “choose” to be exempt for the purpose of a student visa application. Once an adviser is licensed they must abide by the Code of Conduct and all their obligations as a licensed adviser in respect of all immigration advice and assistance they provide.
Similarly, if they are a provisional licence holder, they must still be supervised in regard to their work on student visas.
If licensed advisers do not follow their obligations in respect of student visas or supervision, they may be subject to a complaint.
Reading Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal decisions will help develop your understanding of the standards expected of licensed immigration advisers.
Have you used our online CPD plan and record?
You can log-in at iaa.govt.nz to start or update your CPD plan for the year and record activities you complete. If this is the first time you are logging-in, you will need your activation code. Please contact us if you don’t have it.
Remember that you need to start following the new CPD requirements as soon as you renew your licence after 26 November 2015.
Our CPD Toolkit sets out all our requirements as well as extra guidance. You need to read and understand our CPD Toolkit in order to understand your obligations as a licensed immigration adviser.