What you need to know before getting immigration advice, and what you can do if you are unhappy with that advice.
Immigration advice is advice about New Zealand’s immigration laws and policy. It includes advice about:
- visas that you may be eligible for and which visa may be right for you
- preparing your visa application
- whether you can appeal a decision about your visa application
- your options if you are unlawfully staying in New Zealand.
Before you get immigration advice
Make sure you:
- contact a few different advisers (exempt or licensed) to find out what qualifications and experience they have, what services they offer and what their fees are
- search the IAA’s register of licensed immigration advisers(external link) to make sure they have a valid immigration licence
- check the licence expiry date and type of licence an adviser has to see whether they can deal with your immigration matter
- avoid anyone who claims to have personal contacts at Immigration New Zealand, or asks you to sign a blank visa application.
- watch out for immigration or visa scams. Keep up to-date with scam alerts on our Facebook page(external link) and INZ’s website(external link).
For more information about using immigration advisers read the section for migrants on IAA’s website(external link).
Under the Consumer Guarantees Act, immigration advisers within New Zealand must ensure their advice:
- is given with a reasonable degree of care and skill
- meets the purpose you are seeking advice for
- is given in a timely way
- is a reasonable price if none is agreed beforehand.
If the advice leads to problems, you can get your adviser to fix them, or ask for your money back. If the problem can’t be fixed, you can ask for compensation.
Faulty or unsatisfactory services
Immigration advisers also can’t make false or misleading statements or behave in a false or misleading way when they give you advice, under the Fair Trading Act.
Misleading prices or advertising
Who can give you immigration advice?
You have various options as to who can lawfully give you immigration advice. These include using:
All immigration advisers who give immigration advice about New Zealand must be registered by the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA), unless they are exempt. This applies to advisers based overseas or in New Zealand.
This is to protect you from the risks of using an unlicensed adviser who may lie on your visa application, or give you poor advice so that your visa application may be declined.
Using a licensed immigration adviser
When you use a licensed immigration adviser they are specialised in immigration issues and also have to meet competency standards(external link) and a code of conduct(external link) set by the Immigration Adviser’s Authority (IAA).
Before you hire a licensed immigration adviser, check:
Under the IAA’s Code of Conduct, your licensed immigration adviser must:
- be honest, professional, respectful and comply with New Zealand law
- help provide interpreters and translators if you need this
- provide you with ongoing timely updates
- charge fees that are fair and reasonable
- keep your personal information confidential and comply with the Privacy Act(external link)
- advise you whether you may be eligible for legal aid.
Using exempt immigration advisers
You can also use an exempt immigration adviser(external link). These include:
- within New Zealand - lawyers, employees or volunteers at Community Law Centres or Citizen’s Advice Bureaux, government employees who give immigration advice as part of their jobs and current members of parliament and their staff
- outside New Zealand – education agents advising on student visas only, foreign diplomats and government employees who give immigration advice as part of their jobs.
The New Zealand Law Society can help you find a lawyer or organisation(external link).
If things go wrong
Contact your immigration adviser first
If you are unhappy with the immigration advice you receive, you can make a complaint to your adviser, or to the Immigration New Zealand office that handled your visa application or immigration issue. They all will have a complaints process to deal with complaints.
Read Resolve a problem to find out more.
Contact the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA)
Make a complaint to the IAA if:
- you have received immigration advice about New Zealand from anyone who is not licensed or exempt, or
- you are unhappy with advice given by your licensed immigration adviser and you cannot resolve the issue with them directly.
This will not affect your immigration status or visa application.
Make a complaint(external link) – IAA
Contact the Lawyers Complaints Service
You can make a complaint to the New Zealand Law Society’s Lawyers Complaints service(external link) if you have been unable to resolve your immigration complaint using your lawyer’s complaints process.
Contact Immigration New Zealand (INZ)
You can complain about the service provided by Immigration New Zealand using their Client Complaint Resolution Process(external link).
You can do so if you have been unable to resolve the issue directly with the office that handled your visa application or any other immigration matter.
If you are unable to resolve your issue directly with your immigration adviser, our Resolve It tool has information to help you take the next steps. These may include going to the Disputes Tribunal or District Court.
Resolve it: Immigration advisers
Resolve it: Professional Services, Lawyers and conveyancers
Sara has paid a licensed adviser $1300 as a first instalment for assistance with a residence visa application. Three months have gone by and every time she contacts the adviser, they say, “I’m a bit busy at the moment but will get to it shortly”. The licensed adviser is required to work in a timely manner. Sara can complain to the Immigration Advisers Authority.
Mata and her sister are both unlawfully in New Zealand. They have had several visa applications declined and even a request to the Minister of Immigration was declined. Mata knows that there is no good reason for them to stay in New Zealand and that they really should leave. Mata’s sister says she has found someone who can get them a visa for $5000. She comes home with blank visa forms and says all they need to do is sign them and pay the money in cash. Mata has heard that people helping out with visas need to be licensed and checks the register at iaa.govt.nz. She sees that this person used to be licensed but had their licence cancelled two years ago. She warns her sister that this is not a legitimate adviser and they decide to report the person to the Immigration Advisers Authority.
Thomasi is living in Auckland and received a phone call from a scammer who pretended he was working for Immigration New Zealand. The caller sounded official and knew certain personal details about Thomasi such as his full name and address. He asked for payment from Thomasi to avoid deportation. Thomasi managed to avoid paying any money as he was aware of the scam from friends who had already been tricked.