Immigration advisers: Your rights when getting advice
Who can legally give immigration advice?
The Immigration Advisers Licensing Act was introduced to protect migrants and refugees who get immigration advice, so that they can be confident they’re getting good-quality advice and professional services. Anyone who gives people immigration advice has to have a licence issued by the Immigration Advisers Authority, a government agency. But a qualified lawyer or a Community Law Centre or Citizens Advice Bureau doesn’t need a licence.
A person also doesn’t need to have an immigration adviser’s licence if they’re giving you advice informally as a member of your family or a friend. The licence scheme is aimed at people who give immigration advice as a business, for a fee, or who do it regularly even if not for a fee.
Note: The Immigration Advisers Authority warns that you should stay away from anyone offering immigration advice who refuses to put their name on your visa application, or who asks you to sign a blank visa application form telling you they’ll fill it out later, or who claims to have personal contacts at Immigration New Zealand.
What can I do if I’m not happy with my immigration adviser?
If you’re not happy with the service an immigration adviser has given you – for example, if you’re think they’ve been negligent or dishonest – you can complain to the Immigration Advisers Authority. You can also complain if you become aware that the person didn’t have a licence to give you immigration advice.
You can also complain on behalf of a friend or family member who got the advice.
Your complaint has to be in writing, and you have to give your name. It doesn’t cost anything to complain.
The Authority will send your complaint on to the Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal for it to make a decision. If the Tribunal agrees with your complaint, there’s a range of things it can do, from giving the adviser a warning (“caution”) or a telling-off (“censure”), to ordering them to do special training, or ordering them to refund you the fees you’ve paid them or pay a penalty, or suspending the adviser’s licence temporarily or cancelling it permanently.
Note: If you complain to the Immigration Advisers Authority, this won’t affect any visa application you have with Immigration New Zealand. The two organisations are separate. The Immigration Advisers Authority can’t make any decisions about your immigration status or influence Immigration New Zealand in any way.