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Consultants Urge Regulation To Prevent Scams

For release: 19 November 2003


The body representing New Zealand's immigration consultants has renewed its call for its industry to be officially regulated.

The New Zealand Association for Migration & Investment cites the case of 13 Romanians, apparently let down by their consultant, as reported on last night's "Holmes" programme on TV One.

The Romanians, each of whom had paid $11,000 to travel to and settle in New Zealand, discovered on arrival that their consultant had secured visas which allowed them to stay for only six months to complete an English language course.

The NZAMI says that scams of this type could be avoided if all consultants were registered and bound by a strict code of conduct and if the New Zealand Immigration Service (NZIS) only accept applications from individual applicants or registered agents.

"The very least we should be doing as a country is to ensure that people who want to become New Zealanders and contribute to our society receive comprehensive and accurate advice, provided by consultants of experience and integrity," says the NZAMI's Chairman, Bill Milnes.

"Seeking residence in another country can be a difficult and complex affair and there will never be any shortage of people seeking to advise you on the best way to proceed. In addition to rogue operators, there will those who may not have bad intentions but are largely or wholly ignorant of the rules and of how the system works. It's imperative that tomorrow's New Zealanders be protected from such people.

"The NZAMI has long called for the introduction of a regulatory system which would provide applicants for immigration with some surety that they were dealing with trained, competent and honest consultants. It's been a matter of regret and concern for us that the government has not to date introduced such a system, apparently because of cost considerations," he says.

Mr Milnes adds that the NZAMI welcomes statements from Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel that she is now keen to introduce the registration of consultants.

"We would hope to be part of the process of developing a regulatory system, as our members have a vast body of experience on which the government could draw. We also believe that our own code of ethics could form part of the mix, when it comes to devising a regulatory code for the industry as a whole.

"In the meantime, it would help if the NZIS pointed out to would-be migrants that our organisation exists and is able to provide a list of reputable consultants," he says.

According to Mr Milnes, a key challenge in devising a regulatory system is to ensure that it also applies to consultants operating overseas. He says that, although there are incompetent and dishonest immigration agents in NZ, the majority of scams connected with migration to New Zealand occur offshore.

"So long as the NZIS is willing to continue to accept applications from bad agents, they are in fact encouraging the further abuse of vulnerable new New Zealanders," he adds. The NZAMI represents approximately 150 members throughout New Zealand, including immigration and investment consultants, banks, business specialists and financial advisers. The Association seeks consistent, fair, reliable immigration policies of long-term benefit to New Zealand.

The Association's members are bound by its code of ethics and are subject to expulsion from the organisation if that code is breached.

Details of the NZAMI's code of ethics can be found at: http://www.nzami.co.nz/

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