New route for NZ visa applications?
Industry partnership with Immigration New Zealand (INZ)
Over the years, there has been much discussion and many consultations around an industry partnership with Immigration New Zealand (INZ).
The Immigration Reference Group (IRG) is an industry group comprising New Zealand Association of Immigration Professionals (NZAMP), New Zealand Association of Migration & Investment (NZMI), New Zealand Law Society (NZLS) and New Zealand Immigration Institute (NII) who met quarterly with senior INZ officials.
I am a NZLS representative in this group.
New routes for residency visa applications
INZ, Immigration New Zealand, mooted the idea of an industry partnership to look at a new route for NZ visa applications and set up a subgroup to develop the project. The idea being that if certain criteria were met, industry partnership status could be bestowed upon an organisation who could then elect to take either their client through a particular immigration route for NZ visa applications or through normal processing.
The intention was to facilitate INZ sharing risk and benefits with partners to enable faster and more efficient processing of low risk, high quality visa applications.
INZ wanted a relationship with Lawyers and Licensed Advisers regarding work visa and residence applications.
The relationship would be similar to INZ’s existing visitor visa relationship with Air China and student visa relationship with tertiary providers which appeared to be working well. INZ reported that processes have been streamlined and risks well managed.
Lawyers object to INZ proposal
INZ held consultations in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch through an online survey.
NZLS (www.lawsociety.org.nz) was a strong challenger of this concept, with an article entitled, “Immigration partnership proposal should not proceed.”
Alternative NZ immigration routes
In its submission, NZLS said that it was strongly in favour of initiatives to improve the quality of NZ visa applications submitted to INZ and service delivery, but it offered alternative proposals that would better advance those aims.
The main concern NZLS had was rooted in the obligations of immigration lawyers and licensed immigration advisors to their clients.
NZLS objected to The Immigration Reference Group (IRG) because
- (a) it would create a conflict of interest as lawyers owe duty to their clients and to INZ
- (b) it would necessitate a high success rate of NZ visa applications with the result that some of the most vulnerable migrants and difficult cases would be turned away from quality service
- (c) use of ‘Trusted Partnership’ as a marketing tool would create monopoly and force smaller players out of the marketplace.
Following the discussions and findings of the survey, INZ said, “While there was some support for the concept of an Industry Partnership, we will not be pursuing the proposal in its current form. We would like to continue to support the industry to take this work forward to see if we can develop a strategic partnership with more discussions.”
“We will take away the valuable feedback around our service delivery to identify and implement improvements. The key areas that we will be focussing on will be electronic lodgement, guaranteed processing times and clear application lodgement criteria.”
Some are relieved that the The Immigration Reference Group (IRG) between INZ, Immigration New Zealand, and Lawyers and agents will not go ahead in the current format.
However, the idea remains on the table for further discussion.
Personally, I am happy that the concept is dead. It would have changed the look and feel of our industry, and it could have created giant immigration firms flying their flag of trusted partnership. This could have led to impressionable clientele ready to pay any amount to ensure positive outcomes for their NZ visa applications flocking to such providers.
Fiduciary duty would have been compromised along with many more counterproductive outcomes.