Who can help me with my application to Immigration New Zealand?
Only a licenced immigration adviser can give you advice on New Zealand immigration matters, unless they meet the special exemptions.
People who are exempt from the licence requirement include:
- The Citizens Advice Bureau - for general information about immigrating to New Zealand or help with completing your application. If English is not your first language, you may be able to get help in your own language by contacting CAB Language Connect.
- Immigration New Zealand – the government agency that looks after New Zealand’s immigration rules and laws. You can contact them for information about immigrating to New Zealand, your visa options, and the progress of your visa application.
- Community Law Centres - for general information about immigrating to New Zealand or help with completing your application.
For more specialist help you may need to see a licensed immigration adviser. Under New Zealand law, “immigration advice” specifically refers to advice given by a person who has the knowledge or experience in immigration, to tailor their advice to your particular circumstances. It is illegal to provide immigration advice without a licence, aside from some special exemptions.
More information about who can give you immigration advice is on the Immigration Advisers Authority website.
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How can an immigration adviser help me, and how do I find one?
A licensed immigration adviser can:
- help you work out your visa options,
- prepare your visa application, and
- assess whether you might have grounds to appeal an Immigration New Zealand decision.
You can find a licensed immigration adviser by searching the Immigration Advisers Authority’s register – all licensed immigration advisers must be registered.
It’s wise to check what kind of licence they hold, as this indicates whether they can deal with your particular immigration matter:
- Full licence: the adviser can provide advice on the full range of immigration matters
- Provisional licence: the adviser can provide advice on the full range of immigration matters, but must be supervised by someone holding a full licence
- Limited licence: can provide advice on certain immigration matters
You can find information about an immigration adviser’s licence by checking their adviser’s certificate or wallet card, or by checking their entry on the Immigration Advisers Authority’s register.
It is worth speaking to a few advisers to find one who can give you the right level of service and whose fees are acceptable to you.
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What can I expect if I go to a licensed immigration adviser?
Immigration advisers have to meet certain competency standards, which includes holding certain qualifications and having knowledge of New Zealand’s immigration system. They must follow a professional Licensed Immigration Advisers Code of Conduct which sets out the ethical and professional standards they must follow.
The adviser must give you a written agreement to sign, which fully describes the work they will do for you and how much they will charge you for the work.
If the adviser has a provisional licence, the written agreement must include the name and licence number of their supervisor. If the advisor has a limited licence the agreement must say what kinds of immigration advice they are allowed to give.
More about what should be in the written agreement is in clause 18 of the Professional Practice section of the Code of Conduct.
Make sure you understand the agreement before you sign - you may be able to have it checked at a Community Law Centre.
More information about what you can expect when you see an immigration adviser is on the IAA website, including guides in several languages.
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How much will it cost to use a licensed immigration adviser?
Immigration advisers’ fees vary depending on how complex your immigration query is, what kind of visa they are helping you with and the level of the adviser’s qualifications and experience. Their fees may be a combination of flat fees and hourly fees. They must ensure that the fees they charge are fair and reasonable.
When your adviser asks you for payment they must provide you with an invoice describing what work they are charging you for.
If your adviser asks you to make a payment (as set out in your written agreement) in advance, the money must be kept in a separate client account – not their own bank account, and can only be withdrawn on the date for payment as set out in the agreement.
More about immigration advisers’ fees is on the Immigration Advisers Authority website.
You can also ask the adviser what their refund policy is, in case you change your mind about using them.
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How do I report an un-licensed immigration adviser?
Under New Zealand law, “immigration advice” specifically refers to advice given by a person who has the knowledge or experience in immigration, to tailor their advice to your particular circumstances. It is illegal someone to provide immigration advice without a licence unless they are exempt.
If you believe that someone unlicenced is giving immigration advice and they are not exempt from the licence requirement, you can report it to the Immigration Adviser’s Authority (IAA).
To do this, download a copy of the complaint form (see the next question) and complete Part B before sending it to the IAA.
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What should I do if I’m unhappy with my immigration adviser’s work?
Every licensed immigration adviser must have a complaints procedure, so the first thing you can do is to discuss the problem with your adviser using their complaints procedure.
If you still unsatisfied after going through the complaints process, you can make a complaint to the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA), who can refer it to the Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal. There is no charge for making a complaint to the IAA.
The Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunall can deal with complaints about:
- negligence i.e. not doing what a reasonable adviser would do
- incompetence – not meeting the standards for the type of licence they hold
- incapacity – not able to provide immigration advice properly
- dishonest or misleading behaviour
- a breach of the Code of Conduct
They don’t deal with complaints about people who are exempt from licencing.
Your complaint to the Immigration Advisers Authority must be in writing (by email or on paper). It should state what the issue is, whether you tried to resolve it using the adviser’s internal complaints procedure, and what the outcome of the complaint was (if you used the complaints procedure). Your complaint can’t be anonymous. You should also include copies of any supporting documentation.
Anyone can make a complaint about a licensed immigration adviser; for example you can make a complaint about one on behalf of someone else who received immigration advice.
More information about making a complaint about an immigration adviser is on the IAA website.
You can contact IAA if you are not sure about your options (email@example.com or 0508 422 422), or talk to your local CAB.
The IAA can’t accept complaints about Immigration New Zealand decisions.