Registrar Barry Smedts spent a day at an immigration practice to gain a better understanding of the challenges faced by advisers.
Since licensing became mandatory, the Authority has learned a good deal about immigration advice but Barry wanted to observe an immigration practice first hand.
He said: “It is important for us at the Authority to understand exactly what running a practice involves. Three members of our staff have worked in the industry but my expertise lies in occupational licensing not immigration practice and it is a priority for me to see what’s happening on the ground.”
Barry visited the practice of licensed adviser and NZAMI chair Walter Stone.
Monday morning saw Walter confronted by an inbox of email queries, back to back consultation meetings and a mound of paperwork at his East Tamaki office.
The day kicked off with responding to emails and was followed promptly with a revolving door of clients ranging from a Chinese carpenter to a South African horse groomer and a Brazilian sign writer.
Barry noted it took a good deal of time to explain the code of conduct to potential clients and even the shortest consultation took in excess of an hour. The Authority has been looking into ways to make this process easier during the current code review.
Some clients appeared fairly stressed when they arrived.
Walter explained that Eagle Migration Services, like many other immigration practices, often had to deal with distressed clients.
Walter said: “Some clients can be demanding but that’s generally because, by the time they have gone to an adviser, they have already become frustrated by the immigration system. Managing their expectations is hard and has an on-going impact on adviser turn-around times.”
Other common challenges for advisers included communicating with clients who use English as a second language, the time taken to certify documents and debt recovery.
Barry said: “Ultimately we want to help advisers find solutions to their issues. We want to identify what the issues are, research possible solutions and steer advisers either to the Policy Manual or elsewhere.”
The issue of certifying documents was raised with the Immigration Global Management System (IGMS) team. Find out more about what IGMS means for advisers below.
Improve your immigration knowledge and business skills with CPD modules from the Graduate Certificate in New Zealand Immigration Advice.
This month you can take:
Each module takes 50 hours of study time and must be completed online, in your own time, over the six-week period between 20 May and 28 June 2013. Each module costs $600.
Immigration New Zealand staff have been reminded to deal directly with authorised advisers and not applicants.
A Visapac article to INZ staff explains that no direct contact is to be made with the applicant except in the specific limited circumstances detailed in paragraph 21 of IAC 09-09.
We encourage you to include your client’s contact details on INZ forms as this allows us to survey a larger sample of migrants.
Survey results benefit you and your practice by showing where you are excelling and how you can remain competitive to grow your business.
INZ managers have asked advisers to bring to their attention any instances of staff making direct contact with applicants (noting the limited exceptions above) so appropriate action can be taken.
We take your confidentiality seriously.
If you stated in your renewal form that you would prefer not to include particular contact details on our register, then we don’t share them with anyone. This includes Immigration New Zealand (INZ).
This may be why some advisers are not being automatically invited to INZ seminars.
We regularly update INZ with your details as shown on the register. If you have opted not to add your email address to the register, INZ cannot contact you to tell you about their seminars.
Please take this opportunity to check your listing on the register.
You can amend the contact details we publish on the register by completing and returning the Change of Details Form.
Advisers found out how Immigration New Zealand’s new technology platform, the Immigration Global Management System (IGMS), will affect their work at the first Licensed Adviser Reference Group meeting of 2013.
Advisers heard that once IGMS is fully rolled out in 2015, the entire visa process will be done online, from initial application to final decision.
Applicants, and people acting on their behalf, will be able to complete the relevant forms, upload photos and documents to their personal immigration account, pay their application fee and ask their immigration officer questions - all online.
The changeover from manual to online visa applications will start in late-2013.
The new system will be centred on clients instead of applications. It will lead to visa services being delivered quicker and cheaper, with:
The 18 April meeting heard that a portal will be created allowing advisers to:
Advisers discussed the practicality of the portal with the IGMS team, making several suggestions for the system. They asked for the ability to:
The project team agreed to explore these suggestions and consider appropriate security measures to prevent unauthorised access.
The first IGMS “product,” an online eligibility calculator, will be rolled out next month.
This enhanced version of the existing VisaOptions questionnaire will advise people what visas they are eligible for and link them to relevant information and forms.
Later in the year, students and some temporary workers will be able to submit their visa applications online.
Mid-2014 will see full student visa processing online through to final decision, as well as portal capabilities allowing licensed advisers and those exempt from licensing to view appropriate details of their clients’ applications.
The Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal has launched a searchable online database of its decisions.
You can use the Tribunal’s database to read recent decisions in full.
Below we have summarised the most significant decisions over the last month for advisers and ordered them by what can be learned.
Of the recent decisions, three complaints related to unlicensed people giving immigration advice.
One of the complaints was dismissed because the immigration advice related to offshore student visas and was therefore exempt. The other two complaints were upheld.
The upheld complaints related to two advisers who worked with a company in the Philippines. The Philippines company had an employee, who was not a licensed adviser, fill out all the relevant immigration paperwork.
The employee had the client sign an agreement for the advisers to provide immigration services.
The Tribunal chair noted that the first time the advisers made contact with the client was when he arrived in New Zealand.
The senior of the two advisers was censured and ordered to pay a penalty of $1,500.
The Tribunal chair said: “As the senior licensed immigration adviser in his practice, and effectively the proprietor, he was responsible for ensuring he understood the requirements of the Act and the code, and applied them correctly.”
Both advisers were ordered to complete the Professional Practice module of the Graduate Certificate in New Zealand Immigration Advice.
A former adviser, whose licence expired two years ago, was ordered to pay more than $10,000 by the Tribunal.
The Tribunal said she was a danger to herself and the public needed to be protected from her.
The adviser had taken on a case beyond her level of expertise, not deposited funds into a client account and failed to fully carry out the work. She lodged the application late and dishonestly said she would repay the fees.
The adviser was censured, prevented from reapplying for a licence for two years, ordered to repay $9,500 to the complainant and pay a penalty of $1,500.
An adviser had their licence cancelled after misleading the Tribunal and the Authority.
The original complaint related to a failure to give appropriate advice. The adviser claimed immigration policy had changed and sent a misleading letter to the client.
The Tribunal said these lapses were not at the serious end of the scale. However, what was serious was the way the adviser dealt with the complaint.
The Tribunal chair said: “The adviser provided false and misleading information in the course of addressing the complaint; rejected any professional responsibility and maintains she is a victim.”
The Tribunal ordered that the adviser would only be permitted to reapply for a full licence once a penalty of $2,500 had been paid, a provisional licence had been held for six months and specific modules of the Graduate Certificate in New Zealand Immigration Advice had been successfully completed or once she had successfully completed qualification in full.
Our Cost of an adviser web page has been updated after advisers asked us to better explain why fees varied and review which visa categories were published.
The updated web page, created in discussion with representatives from NZAMI and NZAIP, now includes a more detailed description of why advisers fees may differ.
Fees on the web page are updated annually in June based on data supplied by you and other advisers at licence renewal. This June we will revise the visa types to remove ambiguity and include only the most commonly applied for visas.
In the coming months we will send out a questionnaire to advisers asking them what fees they charged for each of the visa categories during the last 12 months. Only advisers licensed for a year or longer will be asked. Results from the June questionnaire will be used to update our online table of fees.
Thank you to everyone who provided feedback on the revised code of conduct.
The second round of consultation closed on Monday 29 April. We received a further 34 submissions. We discussed the latest draft at the April reference group and received positive feedback for taking on board advisers’ concerns.
We are now reviewing the feedback and will be submitting a revised code to the Minister of Immigration later this month.
Staff at the Authority have received invites to connect on social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook. Please be aware that given the nature of the service we provide it is not appropriate and may be perceived as a conflict of interest.
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