Migrant Advisers Slow In Licensing

Migrant advisers slow in licensing

By Lincoln Tan
New Zealand Herald
4:00AM Wednesday Feb 18, 2009

Fewer than 10 per cent of immigration advisers have obtained a licence, and the deadline is looming.

With 10 weeks to go before immigration advisers here will be required by law to be licensed, only 80 of the estimated 1200 advisers have obtained licences.

But the governing Immigration Advisers Authority says it is not concerned about the slow licensing rate, and said the low numbers was an “endorsement of the legislation's purpose and intent”.

The authority says 160 immigration advisers have said they will not be applying for a licence as they were unable to meet the competency standards required, and 54 others were being assessed.

Registrar Barry Smedts said: “So far, I am pleased with how things are working out. Raising the standard of immigration advice available to migrants is the primary purpose of the Act and it looks as if we are achieving just that.”

Mr Smedts said he expected about 400 to have applied by the May 4 deadline.

“The number is lower than Immigration New Zealand's original estimate, but that figure also included off-shore advisers,” he said.

“What we are seeing is the transformation of the industry into a smaller, more professional grouping with a higher standard of overall expertise.”

In a survey of 653 overseas advisers conducted by the authority in December, 176 said they will be applying for a licence, 160 will not and others were undecided or did not respond.

Overseas advisers will have until May 4 next year to get a licence. Unlicensed agents face fines of up to $100,000 and/or imprisonment for up to seven years.