08 May 2009
Immigration NZ helping people emigrating to New Zealand caught by licensing laws
As of 4 May 2009, Immigration New Zealand introduced new laws for agents helping people emigrating to New Zealand. The new laws require all immigration agents practicing in New Zealand to have a licence to do so. All overseas agents have another 12 months to acquire the licence to help people emigrating to New Zealand.
Many people emigrating to New Zealand use immigration agents to help them with their New Zealand visa application, because the process can be long and complex at times and it is important that migrants apply for the right type of visa properly.
Immigration NZ introduced the new law to help people emigrating to New Zealand with lodging their New Zealand visa application so that dodgy agents can be flushed out of the system. The trouble is, because the licence costs nearly $2,000 to buy, many legitimate agents have failed to obtain one (Otago Daily Times reports that only 171 of 1200 agents have been licensed so far).
As a result, many New Zealand visa applications have been lost in limbo; the new law states that any applications received by Immigration NZ from unlicensed advisors after the 4 May would be rejected, which would affect hundreds of people already in the process of emigrating to New Zealand.
However, Immigration NZ chief Andrew Annakin said that his department would endeavour to help all those migrants who have paid good money to legitimate agents who are now unlicensed and therefore unlawfully allowed to continue with their New Zealand visa application.
"I sympathise with anyone who may be worried about their application as a result of the new provisions which have come into effect and we will do our utmost to help them," he said.
"Prospective migrants with any concerns about their situation should call our contact centre in the first instance. If they need help with their application the contact centre will get their details and arrange for an officer at the closest branch to call them back within 24 hours to arrange for an appointment."
Those affected could also visit a government immigration branch or visit a licensed advisor to finish off their New Zealand visa application, and seek a refund of fees paid to unlicensed agents.
He added, the new laws are not an attempt to disadvantage people emigrating to New Zealand but are in the best interests of raising the integrity of the New Zealand immigration system.
"Up to now anybody could call themselves an immigration adviser and some migrants have been ripped off," Mr Annakin said.
"The new law is a win-win situation for migrants and professional advisers and we will work through any teething problems to ensure no prospective migrant loses out."
The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their New Zealand visa application.