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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 explicitly exempt under the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007 (the Act).

This policy outlines:

Definition of immigration advice

Section 7 of the Act 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:

Definition of immigration matter

An immigration matter is defined as any matter arising under or concerning the application of the Immigration Act 2009 (including any regulations or instructions made under that Act); and includes:

Immigration advice excludes

The Act’s definition of immigration advice specifically excludes:

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.

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 or the Immigration New Zealand Operational Manual.

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:

Translation and interpreting services

Providing translation or interpreting services is not giving immigration advice.

Settlement services

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. 

People exempt from licensing

People who can give immigration advice without a licence are: 

New Zealand Lawyers

For the purpose of this exemption, a lawyer is a person who holds a current practising certificate as a Barrister or as a Barrister and Solicitor issued by the New Zealand Law Society.

Employees of a lawyer or a law firm who provide immigration advice in the context of their employment agreement also fall within this exemption on the basis that the employee cannot give advice on their own account. The exempt lawyer employing this person is responsible for the advice given to the client, not the employee.

Lawyers are prohibited from applying for a licence under section 12(6) of the Act. The Immigration Advisers Authority will not accept licence applications from either lawyers or non-lawyer employees of law firms..

Offshore student advisers

Advisers who are offshore and provide advice in relation to student visa applications only are exempt. This exemption does not allow an adviser to provide advice to secondary or related applicants on any other visa type such as work, visitor or guardian visas. If an offshore adviser wishes to provide advice on student and other visa types, they must apply for a licence.

Employers, recruiters, education providers and travel sellers

Employers, recruiters, education providers and travel agents are not exempt and may become licensed. Those who do not wish to become licensed are free to assist their clients by providing them with publicly available information, as long as they are not interpreting that information or applying immigration instructions or law to a particular person.

Publicly available information can be provided without giving immigration advice by:

In all of these situations, the employer, recruiter, education provider or travel seller must record their details in the section of the visa application form entitled “Declaration by person assisting the applicant”.

If the client requests specific immigration advice, they should be referred to INZ, a licensed immigration adviser or someone legally entitled to give immigration advice because they are exempt.

Details of all licensed immigration advisers can be obtained from the register of licensed immigration advisers.

If you are uncertain about whether or not you are providing immigration advice in any particular situation, you should seek independent legal advice.