New Zealand Embassy Tokyo, Japan

Licensed Immigration Advisers Act

Providing immigration advice is now a licensed, recognised profession in New Zealand.

Anyone providing immigration advice about New Zealand immigration matters based in New Zealand now requires a licence (unless they are exempt). Immigration New Zealand now refuses to accept applications or requests from unlicensed onshore advisers, unless exempt.

Anyone providing immigration advice about New Zealand immigration matters based offshore must be licensed by 4 May 2010 at the latest.

If you are not exempt and you knowingly provide immigration advice without a licence, you could face a fine of up to NZ$100,000 and/or up to seven years imprisonment. To obtain a licence, you need to lodge an application with the Authority. The Registrar will assess your evidence to ensure you meet the competency standards and that you are fit to be licensed. The Registrar can only grant a licence to an individual. He cannot grant a licence to a company or organisation.

Who is exempt from licensing?

People who can provide immigration advice without a licence include:

  • those who provide immigration advice in an informal or family context only, so long as the advice is not provided systematically or for a fee;
  • current members of the New Zealand Parliament and their staff who provide immigration advice within the scope of their employment agreement;
  • foreign diplomats and consular staff in New Zealand accorded protection under certain Acts;
  • New Zealand public service employees who provide immigration advice within the scope of their employment agreement;
  • Lawyers; for the purpose of this exemption a lawyer is a person who holds a current practising certificate as a barrister or as a barrister and solicitor, issued by the New Zealand Law Society. Employees of a lawyer or a law firm who provide immigration advice in the context of their employment agreement also fall within this exemption on the basis that the employee cannot give advice on their own account and it is the exempt lawyer employer who is responsible for the advice given to the client, not the employee.
  • people working (either employed or volunteers) for community law centres within New Zealand, where at least one lawyer is involved with the centre;
  • people working (either employed or volunteers) for New Zealand citizens advice bureaux;
  • people who provide immigration advice offshore who advise on student visa and permit applications only;
  • people exempted by Regulations.

What is immigration advice?

“Immigration advice” is a legal term defined in section 7 of the Act. People have to consider whether they are knowingly putting themselves in a position where they advise, assist, direct or represent another person about immigration matters concerning New Zealand. Licensing applies to anyone who provides immigration advice including, for example, immigration consultants and advisers in the recruitment, travel and education sectors, who need to consider whether they are providing immigration advice.

There are three key elements to “immigration advice”:

  • the person is using or purporting to use knowledge of or experience in immigration;
  • that knowledge or experience is used to advise, direct, assist or represent another person;
  • the advice, direction, assistance or representation is provided in regard to an immigration matter relating to New Zealand.

Giving people publicly available information (e.g. information on the Immigration New Zealand website) is not classified as immigration advice. And people who undertake clerical work, settlement services or translating or interpreting services do not need a licence.

  • Clerical work means the provision of services in relation to an immigration matter, or to matters concerning sponsors, employers, and education providers, in which the main tasks involve all or any combination of the following:
    1. the recording, organising, storing, or retrieving of information;
    2. computing or data entry;
    3. recording information on any form, application, request, or claim on behalf and under the direction of another person.
  • Settlement services means all or any of a range of targeted support services provided for migrants, refugees, and their families, including services for the purposes of enabling migrants, refugees, and their families to settle into the community; learn the language; and find out how to access essential community services.

Whether a person is providing publicly available information or performing clerical work (these don’t require a licence), or giving “immigration advice” (which does) will depend on the facts of each particular case. Contact us to find out more, or if you need help to figure this out. You can also read further information about how “immigration advice” is defined.

How much will it cost?

The total cost for a licence is NZ$1995 (incl GST) and is set by Regulation. This is made up of an NZ$890 application fee (NZ$791.11 if you are not ordinarily resident in New Zealand) and a NZ$1105 levy (NZ$982.22 if you are not ordinarily resident in New Zealand). Licence upgrade fees will be NZ$535 (incl GST – NZ$475.56 if not ordinarily resident in New Zealand).

Licence fees will cover the cost of processing and assessing all applications: initial licence, licence renewal, and licence upgrade. Levies will cover part of the cost of funding the functions of the Authority (other than application costs) and the full Tribunal costs.

What are the competency standards?

The competency standards, also available in: [rtf, 7 pages, 280kB] [PDF, 7 pages, 60kB] Combined competency standards and code booklet [PDF, 24 pages, 714kB] set the minimum standards of competence that you must achieve in order to be licensed.

There are seven competency standards and each standard includes one or more performance indicators. The standards required for a provisional licence holder differ from those required for a full or limited licence holder, because a provisional licence holder works under the direct supervision of a full licence holder. The competency standards are also published in the New Zealand Gazette.

What is the standard for English language competency?

All licensed advisers are able to communicate in English to a high standard. It’s important that you fully understand the evidence requirements, as outlined in the policy guideline competency standard 5: English language.

You can provide evidence of competency by:

  • completion of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test with minimum academic scores of Reading 6.5; Listening 6.5; Speaking 6.5; and Writing 6.5 with a minimum overall IELTS academic band score of 7.0 or over; or
  • completion of primary schooling (or equivalent) and at least three years secondary schooling (or equivalent) in schools where the education was conducted in the English Language; or
  • completion of five years secondary schooling (or equivalent) in schools where the education was conducted in the English Language.

The Registrar may consider other evidence of English language competence on a case-by-case basis. However, a university degree– or similar– is not considered a sufficient guarantee that the holder has a high level of English.

For more information on the Immigration Adviser’s Licence Act and how to become an Immigration Adviser, refer to:

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