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Immigration Advisers Welcome New Licensing System

Immigration Advisers Welcome New Licensing System – Media Release for 7 March 2008

Chair of the New Zealand Association for Migration and Investment Inc (NZAMI) Richard Howard welcomes the release of industry competency standards and a code of conduct for Immigration Advisers.

Licencing will provide Immigration Advisers with public professional accreditation that they have met, and continue to meet, robust industry standards to practice immigration work. It will also, importantly, allow prospective migrants to select an Adviser from a register of licensed Advisers and to have justifiable confidence in the ability of that Adviser to provide expert professional advice and assistance with their immigration requirements.

Although applications for a licence can be made to the Immigration Advisers Authority from 4 May 2008 it is from 4 May 2009 that everyone working in New Zealand as an Immigration Adviser must be licensed (unless they are exempt). Overseas based Advisers who give New Zealand immigration advice will have to be licensed from 4 May 2010.

Mr Howard said that competency standards and a code of conduct are important elements in raising the level of professionalism in the immigration advice industry.

“Previously, anyone could set themselves up in business as an Immigration Adviser and many people have done so without any significant expertise or experience in the field.”

“To become licensed, Advisers will now have to prove their knowledge and experience in immigration work by meeting a range of competency standards. In addition, Advisers must meet an English standard, be committed to ongoing professional development and adhere to a code of conduct. While there are already a number of highly competent and very experienced practising advisers these licencing requirements will serve to raise the overall level of professionalism and expertise throughout the sector.”

Mr Howard also noted a number of challenges associated with the introduction of adviser licensing. These include:

- the actual number of immigration advisers who will be able to meet the licensing standard and who decide to become licensed. Smaller businesses or part time advisers may reconsider their ongoing involvement in the industry.
- implications for people who provide immigration advice within their workplace. HR Managers and recruitment agents, District Health Boards and other large employers who undertake offshore recruitment, and tertiary institutions in New Zealand who assist international students with student and graduate work permits, may all be affected.

- practical issues surrounding the assessment and regulation of offshore advisers.
- concerns that the competency standards required of licensed advisers may differ from that required of lawyers undertaking the same work - as lawyers are not required to be licensed
- the willingness and ability of the Authority to take enforcement action against those who transgress.

“Notwithstanding these challenges the NZAMI welcomes the introduction of the licensing legislation and is working closely with the Immigration Advisers Authority to ensure its smooth and successful introduction this coming May.”

ENDS

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