The mandatory licensing for offshore immigration agents came into force on May 4, 2010, requiring all agents or consultants providing immigration advice on New Zealand Immigration must be licensed by the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA), except those exempt under the law.
This is effective all over the world.
All licensed advisers based in New Zealand and overseas, must abide by the Code of Conduct specified by the IAA.
Some important aspects of the Code of Conduct that all migrants seeking advice should be aware of the following:
1. An adviser must have a written agreement signed by the client, detailing full description of the services offered and the fees charged. A copy of this agreement should be given to the client for their records.
2. The Advisor must give detailed invoices to the client for each payment received
3. If the adviser believes that the application is vexatious or does not have any hope of being successful, he or she should inform accordingly and should be discouraged from lodging the application
4. An adviser should only work within the limit of his/her knowledge
5. The Advisor should display the Licensed Advisor’s Code of Conduct in a prominent place in their office
6. The Advisor must return passports and other personal documents to the client on request and without delay
7. The Adviser must charge fees that are fair and reasonable as per the circumstances and must set this out in the Client Agreement before commencing work
I have detailed the above points because many clients are dealing with advisers in New Zealand and offshore who do not follow the rules in force and their obligations.
For example, many clients are paying in cash for the services undertaken by the adviser, without asking for invoices and receipts. Clients should know that they have the right to do so. They must also get a copy of the client agreement signed with the adviser.
According to the IAA, as on May 31, 2010, there were 456 licensed advisers, of which only 150 were based overseas.
The licencing regime states that only agents providing advice on student visas can do so without a license. However, all agents providing advise on all visitor visas (parent, spouse, dependent child or general), all work visas (parent, spouse, dependent child or general) and permanent residency matters can do so only if they are a licensed adviser.
Immigration New Zealand will no longer accept applications from unlicensed advisers.
Immigration New Zealand and the IAA have been educating migrants worldwide through press releases, seminars, newsletters and on their website about the importance of migrants using licensed or exempt advisers for all their temporary and permanent immigration needs.
For example, in situations of conflict or other issues, a migrant can hold a licensed adviser accountable or complain about him/her to the authority even for a student visa application which otherwise can be done by an unlicensed adviser.
However, they cannot do so for an unlicensed adviser.
Migrants should have confidence in their licenced adviser, knowing that there is an opportunity to redress if problems arise.
They should also know that there has been increased interest among licensed advisors in professional up-skilling.
Migrants play a powerful role by dealing with only licensed advisers.
Advisers breaching the rules in force are liable for imprisonment up to seven years and fines up to $NZ 100,000.
Arunima Dhingra is Director, Aims Global Education & Immigration Services Ltd. She is a licensed immigration adviser based in Auckland. The firm’s overseas office is based in India. She can be contacted on (021) 2575250. Email: email@example.com