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Regulating immigration advisors

26 January 2005

Regulating immigration advisors

A Bill to regulate immigration advisors is to be introduced to Parliament in May, Immigration Minister Paul Swain announced today.

The Bill will require all immigration advisors who assist migrants and asylum seekers wanting to live in New Zealand to be licensed. It is estimated at least 1000 advisors may be affected.

Paul Swain said the industry is currently unregulated with only a small number of advisors belonging to any professional bodies. The legislation will bring New Zealand into line with countries such as Canada, Britain and Australia. It will become an offence to provide immigration advice without a licence, for a person to say they hold a licence when they don’t or say they are licensed to give advice when they aren’t. Offenders could face a fine of up to $100,000, seven years imprisonment or both.

“We are regulating the industry to protect migrants and potential migrants. The vast majority of advisors act professionally and ethically. This legislation sends a strong message that the government will not tolerate the small number of crooks who prey on vulnerable people wanting to live in New Zealand," Paul Swain said.

An independent governing body will be established as a separate authority within the Labour Department. It will provide minimum standards for the industry, administer a code of conduct, and organize professional training for licensed advisors as well as establish complaint and redress procedures.

Once legislation is passed the Immigration Service will refuse an application put forward by an advisor if they are unlicensed. The legislation will also include offshore advisors who will be able to opt-in to the licensing regime for the first three years. After that it will be mandatory.

Certain occupations with existing consumer protection mechanisms, such as lawyers, will be exempt. The detailed costings of the scheme have not been completed but licenses are expected to cost $1000-$2000 a year. The not-for-profit sector will be subject to regulation, but will not pay the full licensing fee. All advisors will have to be licensed within two years of the Act coming into force.

Further information on the proposed legislation, including Cabinet papers, will be available tomorrow at www.immigration.govt.nz/community/stream/advise .

ENDS


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