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Who needs a licence?

Any individual providing New Zealand immigration advice either in New Zealand or offshore must be licensed unless exempt under the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007 (the Act).

If you use your knowledge of or personal experience in immigration matters to advise, assist, direct or represent a person, you will be providing ‘immigration advice’. This could include, for example:

  • using publicly available information to advise a person on an immigration matter
  • advising a person what visa they qualify for
  • advising a person how best to answer a question in the application form, or what additional information might best be included with the application
  • writing a covering letter to accompany the application
  • acting as their representative.

If you have concerns that you may be providing ‘immigration advice’ without a licence, you should seek independent legal advice or consider obtaining a licence.

Definition of immigration advice

Section 7 - What constitutes immigration advice

States that immigration advice ‘means using, or purporting to use, knowledge of or experience in immigration to advise, direct, assist, or represent another person in regard to an immigration matter relating to New Zealand, whether directly or indirectly and whether or not for gain or reward’.

Section 7 has three key elements, which define immigration advice:

  • The person is using or purporting to use knowledge of or experience in immigration.
  • Knowledge or experience is used to advise, direct, assist or represent another person.
  • The advice, direction, assistance or representation is provided in regard to an immigration matter relating to New Zealand.

The Act’s definition of immigration advice specifically excludes:

  • Providing information that is publicly available or that is prepared by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment
  • Directing a person to the Minister of Immigration, or to an immigration officer or a refugee and protection officer (within the meaning of the Immigration Act 2009), or to a list of licensed immigration advisers
  • Carrying out clerical work, translation or interpreting services or settlement services.

Publicly available information

Providing information from a publicly available source is not immigration advice. Examples of a publicly available source include the Immigration New Zealand website.

Providing information becomes giving immigration advice when you tailor it to the particular circumstances of an individual or give guidance or assistance to the individual.

Helping family members with their New Zealand visa application

As per section 11(a) of the Act, you’re exempt from the requirement to be licensed if you provide immigration advice in an informal or family context, so long as both:

  • the advice is not provided systematically, and
  • the person providing the advice does not charge a fee. 

This exemption is intended for one-off instances rather than being consistent or frequent. It only applies to family members. It does not extend to friends or people you personally consider as family but are not related to you.

Online platforms like Facebook and forums

By law, anyone who gives immigration advice about New Zealand must be licensed by the Immigration Advisers Authority, unless they are exempt. 

If you use your knowledge to direct, assist or represent a person, it can be considered provision of immigration advice. This would constitute a breach of the Act. 

People who provide immigration advice in an informal or family context only are exempt, so long as both:

  • the advice is not provided systematically
  • the person providing the advice does not charge a fee. 

‘Systematically’ relates more to the provision of the advice and information in a consistent and continuous way, rather than putting systems in place such as setting up an office or publicising contact details.

You can direct the person looking for immigration advice to:

Clerical work

Clerical work relates to the provision of services in relation to an immigration matter, or to matters concerning sponsors, employers, and education providers, in which the main tasks involve all or any combination of the following:

  • The recording, organising, storing, or retrieving of information.
  • Computer or data entry.
  • Recording information on any form, application, request, or claim on behalf and under the direction of another person.

Translation and interpreting services

Providing translation or interpreting services is not giving immigration advice.

Settlement services

Mean all or any of a range of targeted support services provided for migrants, refugees, protected persons, and their families to settle into the community, learn the language and to find out how to access essential community services. For example, this may include assisting migrants to find housing, schools for their children or information on public transport.

Licensing toolkit has more information.