05 May 2009

Emigrating to New Zealand now protected from unscrupulous immigration agents

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Providing advice for emigrating to New Zealand has now become a more regulated profession for migration agents practicing in the country, after new laws requiring advisers to have a mandatory $2000 licence came into effect yesterday.

Emigrating to New Zealand can be a complex task, requiring potential migrants to seek the help of immigration advisers.  In a move to protect the thousands of people paying for the advice of immigration agents from those that seek to abuse the system, the New Zealand Department of Labour has introduced a mandatory licence for all practising advisers in New Zealand.

This means that all New Zealand visa applications lodged to the government must be completed by either the migrant themselves, or a licensed immigration adviser.  Any application lodged with the help of an unlicensed adviser will be rejected by Immigration New Zealand.

"There’s nothing revolutionary about mandatory immigration adviser licensing.  The industry has been successfully regulated overseas for years. What we are doing is bringing New Zealand practice in line with competitor nations such as Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia and that’s got to be good for migrants and the New Zealand industry," Voxy reported Barry Smedts, Registrar of the Immigration Advisers Authority as saying.

Yet while the licensing act is a positive move for protecting people emigrating to New Zealand, some migrants are finding that their New Zealand visa application is now stuck in limbo.

According to the New Zealand Herald, only 171 advisers out of 1200 practising in New Zealand has bothered to pay $1995 for a licence to practice, and thousands of clients can no longer process their application because the government will reject it. 

"Some clients have paid the full fees upfront, so they can't just switch to a licensed adviser now without losing all their money," said a licensed immigration consultant Tika Ram.

"Advisers should have advised their clients that they will not be able to act on their behalf after a particular time-frame, but many did not."

However, Smedts says that the statistics can prove in favour of migrants. 

"The industry is now smaller, more professional and has a higher standard of overall expertise. I like to think of licensing as a sort of brand protection that supports good operators and punishes bad ones."

Overseas-based immigration advisers have another 12 months to continue providing advice on emigrating to New Zealand before they will need to have a licence to do so.


The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with emigrating to New Zealand.


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