Document security and return
A licensed immigration adviser must:
- ensure any financial and personal documents belonging to or relating to the client, whether held physically or electronically, are held securely whilst in the adviser’s possession, and
- when requested or required, return passports and other personal documents to the client without delay and in a secure manner.
Clause 27 requires an adviser to ensure that any financial and personal documents belonging to or relating to clients are held securely whilst in the adviser’s possession and are returned to clients without delay and in a secure manner when requested or required at the completion of services.
Within New Zealand, the Electronic Transactions Act 2002 authorises advisers to retain in electronic form information that is in paper or other non-electronic form so long as the electronic form provides a reliable means of assuring the integrity of the information and the information is readily accessible for subsequent reference.
Advisers cannot retain personal documents (including passports) provided by the client for any reason. In particular, none of a client’s personal documents can be retained as security for payment of fees or disbursements.
A good option for the return of personal documents to meet the requirements of clause 27(b) is to use a courier that either uses a track and trace number, or requires a signature, before personal documents are handed over. Another method is to have the client come to the adviser to collect them in person and sign a document acknowledging receipt of their personal documents.
Here are some decisions from the Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal that refer to the importance of returning personal documents:
Goher v Hammadieh
Penalty Decision:  NZIACDT 1 (14 January 2016)
Chand and Kumari v Prakash
Decision:  NZIACDT 60 (28 September 2012) (PDF, 145 KB)
Penalty Decision:  NZIACDT 85 (3 December 2012) (PDF, 178 KB)
Musese v Min
Decision:  NZIACDT 24 (4 April 2013) (PDF, 119 KB)
Penalty Decision:  NZIACDT 60 (18 September 2013)(PDF, 96.7 KB)