Filed under: Immigration Advisers, NZIS & Immigration issues
If ever you were in doubt that what matters most with Immigration rules was money – you really need to look no further than Student Visas. Already they are exempt from Immigration Advisers Licensing Act rules which means that you do not have to use a licensed adviser to help you with your application. The reason given for this is purely and simply that it was thought enforcing such a rule would mean less students would come to New Zealand and it would damage the lucrative market in selling education to foreigners.
Protecting those students from unscrupulous Immigration agents is of no concern. The students are worth WAY too much money to risk a cut in numbers by insisting that (apparently) their agents should be be properly qualified / licensed.
Now it seems we are going further – and cutting out the requirement for students to have to complete health tests.
Currently - Students wanting to come here for more than a short course need to pass the same Health and Character requirements as the rest of us (well – all of us except Kim Dotcom anyway.)
Now, they will just have to pass tests to make sure they don’t have TB – but otherwise – they just need to declare that they have any health issues.
Yay! That’ll work!
Relaxing health screening requirements for international students could lead to people infected with HIV and hepatitis being granted visas to study here, medical experts say.
Student visa applicants will be screened only for tuberculosis from July, unless they have other health conditions, and will no longer need to supply full medicals.
The onus will instead rest on applicants to declare their health conditions rather than on medical checks to detect diseases.
Sopheng Veng, a former postgraduate accountancy student from Cambodia who faced a deportation order after he was diagnosed with hepatitis B and C during a medical screening, said he was thrilled with the changes.
Well, he would, wouldn’t he?
He is planning to apply for a visa to complete his study in New Zealand now there will no longer be a need for full medicals.
Mr Veng, 29, claimed he caught the infections from prostitutes here, but is in a good state of health.
A general practitioner specialising in immigration medicals, who did not want to be named, said the savings made by students paying for medical screenings could end up costing the taxpayer.
Who cares? The money we screw out of these students in fees will, I’s sure, more than make up for the cost!
But an Immigration spokeswoman said the changes “do not diminish an applicant’s requirement to declare health conditions or meet health conditions”.
Immigration Minister Nathan Guy said the changes were aimed at “reducing red tape” and “making it easier for low-risk, high-value students to come to New Zealand”.
The international education sector is worth $2.3 billion to the economy.
And THAT is the important point.
Students are worth more.
So who gives a crap.
This blog is powered by WordPress, of which I am a HUGE fan. And has a brilliant Stats page, which tells us bloggers not just how many people come and visit every day, but gives us a look at the search terms people use to find us. Which means we can at least try and tailor what we write to what it looks like people want to read. Although to be honest most of what I write is just what happens to be shiny enough to have grabbed my attention that day.
But the other day – this is what grabbed my attention – as one of the search terms used to get here:
3. outline who has discretionary decision-making powers under the immigration act 2009 and explain why.
Now, I had just written about some of those powers around the Section 61 Visas, the decisions for which INZ staff have been instructed not to record so that there will be fewer complaints made. But you know – that question looked suspiciously familiar to me. Like it was part of the “test” you have to complete when filling in the application to become a Licensed Immigration Adviser?
Best way to check was to stick the term into Google, and this blog comes up: God will get you an Immigration Advisers License.
Sure enough, I list the questions that the IAA expect it’s Advisers to know the answers to. I also say, in what I can only think of as a funny coincidence:
Even the part that is actually supposed to “test” your knowledge of the Immigration Advisers Licencing Act is is so simple I could answer most of the questions off the top of my head, and take about 2 minutes to get the other answers off the net (5 to re-write them in my own words):
Apparently – someone who want’s a license also agrees with me. Unfortunately, that blog isn’t going to give the answer or help them pass what constitutes a test.
(“This is not the Blog you are looking for”)
And it probably goes without saying that the fact a would-be agent is actually having to Google the answers rather than knowing them – or even knowing that you find the answer in the INZ Ops Manual, is not improving my opinion of Immigration Agents/Advisers. I think I have said this before – but why oh why do they keep running headlong into a situation where I can sit back and take the piss???
I came across a particularly unhelpful and badly written article about an Immigration Adviser up on forgery charges, who is due to be taken to court next September. No hurry then. The article doesn’t say much to be honest, except that apparently he wasn’t licensed, but had been asking for fees as if he was licensed. And there’s a line at the bottom that says people should check the register of the Law Society to find out if a lawyer has a current practicing certificate.
So what gives?
Well, as much as I can find out (which is little) Richard Martin (Of Richard Martin Immigration) was a lawyer. As such he would have been exempt from needing to be a licensed adviser as lawyers are in the exempt category. He is no longer a lawyer, though there doesn’t seem to be any information as to why – whether he retired, was refused a practicing certificate or what.
(Note to Law Soc – the IAA actually keeps lists of whose licensed expired vs who was refused or cancelled – it’s a good idea!)
The company website is down “being updated” but thanks to the magic of the Internet and the WayBack machine, I found an old cache of the website. Not that’s its a good one – but it does confirm that he was in fact an immigration lawyer at some point, and had previously worked at Malcolm Pacific – one of the biggest agencies.
The NZAMI the New Zealand Association for Migration and Investment -(“the professional association for New Zealand migration advisers and the people who use their services” – um and we need a second agency why exactly – there’s only 502 agents for crying out loud – one agency is too many!) – has Richard Martin listed as being an ex-member whose membership was terminated in October 2009. They also make the note specifically that he is not legally allowed to give immigration advise.
The IAA say nothing about him, but then he was never registered.
But I have to ask – WHY aren’t immigrants looking for this information. If you are going to pay thousands of dollars for immigration “advice” – wouldn’t you at least take 5 minutes to do a google search? No one who has done so would have gone near this guy. If you are thinking of using him – do yourself a favour – GOOGLE. In fact – ANY agent you want to pay thousands too – do a thorough internet search. It’s a lot of money – why wouldn’t you?
And to be clear – checking the IAA register would not have helped because as a lawyer he didn’t have to be registered with them, and they have no mention of him or of the issue. Google however has plenty to say about why no one should have used this guys business.
Turns out he was also the lawyer who got Michael Barrymore into New Zealand despite the guy being in no way capable of passing a good character test but being famous – which is much more important in New Zealand.
Anyway – bottom line – he’s up for the mystical $100,000 fine or 7 years in jail. And his criminal behaviour is apparently like me giving advice for free to people I meet via a blog or forum. Utter bleeping bullshit law!
· 34 Crimes Act charges of forgery.
· 34 Immigration Act charges of providing false and misleading information.
· 11 charges for asking/receiving fees when unlicensed.
· 9 charges for giving unlicensed immigration advice.
· 3 other immigration-related charges.
Filed under: Getting to New Zealand, Immigration Advisers, NZIS & Immigration issues
There’s actually been quite a lot happening on the immigration front here – I’e just been too lazy (and too depressed by it all) to blog about it. So Instead of writing an stream of rather sad and depressing posts – I decided to do it in one short sharp shock, and write an update instead.
It’s an annoyance that never seems to go away – but another couple are being harassed my INZ over the fact that INZ don’t believe their relationship is real. They have a baby together, and they are in fact married – but that is not enough for the bean counters and paper shufflers at INZ.
Despite him being married and with a child on the way, Immigration NZ visa services manager Jan Clark said proof of a shared home, finances, belongings and household chores were required to prove they were a genuine couple.
Marriage certificate and – dare I say it – an advanced pregnancy – isn’t enough???? A few years ago, I came across a poster on a forum who had to go through this farce despite being married for 40 years. Before joint bank accounts were common. At the end of the day lack of knowledge on the part of immigration staff does not constitute a lack of relationship on an immigrants part. So this isn’t a one-off situation.
Joint Bank Accounts and bills. It’s a necessity if you don’t want to have to deal with this kind of crap.
This it has to be said, affects mostly ethnic minority or pacific islander immigrants, who seem to be less confident and knowledgeable about their rights and the law. That is not to say that western immigrants don’t get similar treatment, but it tends to be of a lesser scale (paid considerably less, conned into taking 2 year work visa positions and forced to do a job that differs markedly from that applied for or you lose your visa- that sort of thing).
In this case – a Wellington “businesswoman” – whose identity is protected by name suppression laws, employed 2 Fijians, did not pay them the minimum wage, and did not pay them holiday pay. She also employed them illegally while they were here on visitors visas.
This is a bit of an odd one, as I can’t find the adviser listed at the IAA, even under past licence holders. So hopefully this guy, Piliki Talanoa, will be prosecuted under the Immigration Advisers Licencing Act. His client, a hairdresser by trade, gave him the passport last September in order to get a work visa renewal. The agent apparetly closed his office down last month, at which point the police managed to get the passport back.
Mr Talanoa says Mr Cohen changed his mind about which category visa he wanted to apply for and that caused the delay, a claim Mr Cohen strongly denies.
A hairdresser by trade, Mr Cohen says he’s pleased to have his passport back and hopes to have a new work permit approved by Immigration New Zealand. But the delays have cost him the chance to apply for residency, he says.
“I have to apply for a work permit from the beginning.”
His advice to other people seeking work permits is to deal directly with Immigration New Zealand.
Mr Talanoa wouldn’t discuss why he abandoned his former office in Otahuhu so suddenly.
But property manager Johan Ackerman says Mr Talanoa had already left the property when the owners showed up to evict him.
Hmmm, there’s a story there – including why he doesn’t appear to have ever held an Immigration Advisers licence. Of course the IAA has no authority to read this article and act on its contents unless someone makes a complaint. The police haven’t charged Mr Talanoa with anything. Question is: why not?
I say good news – as it undoubtedly is for the lady who has been given a 3 year visitor visa instead of the normal 6 months, and for her daughter. It’s not so good though for the hundreds if not thousands of people who refused help or consideration from the Immigration Ministry. So on the one hand I am chuffed to bits about this one, on the other hand it annoys me considerably.
The details are that Louise Sydes UK rest home was being closed, and rather than be relocated, she wanted to move to be with her daughter in Auckland. They contacted the Immigration Minsiter’s office and appear to have just asked them to let her stay. Ive read 2 articles about this – neither of them mention anything about going via Immigration New Zealand, or applying for residency via the family stream, or indeed having to pass the stringent medical tests.
Speaking from New Zealand her daughter Sue Pearson said she was ‘excited’.
She said: ‘Usually family members are only allowed to come for six months but we wrote to the minister of immigration who granted us permission for her to come and live with us.
Given the desperate needs of some people I have come across to get a visa to live in New Zealand, and the crap they have to go through to get it – IF they get it (often they don’t)- I cant help but be a little angry about this. It does kinda make a mockery out of the pain of other families who are refused the right to live together.
Pooja Kapila, whose husband Satinder is in Waikeria Prison awaiting deportation, was so desperate to avoid what she says is the death sentence of being returned to the slums of the Punjab that she refused to sign the documents presented to her at their Te Puke home on October 21.
They have been living here in New Zealand for 10 years. They have three children, one of them is a New Zealand citizen by birth, having been born here just one year after they arrived. This was before the loophole allowing this to happen was closed. Now I’m probably going to come over as heartless and cold on this – but I really think in case like this we cannot keep holding INZ to blame. Often from reading these kinds of articles, I find I end up making a judgement (based on very little information) about whether I feel the families should be allowed to stay or not. I really cant work out why in other cases I feel compassion, but in this one I don’t. Perhaps it’s because the third child was born so soon after arriving, perhaps it’s because after 10 years of living in New Zealand Mrs Kapila needs an interpreter. Perhaps it’s because once again “celebrity” Immigration Adviser Tuariki Delamere is involved.
As is often the case with these articles – they are full of emotion, and short on facts. As is also often the case, the comments with the article are somewhat enlightening.
Another “Licenced Immigration Adviser” has has their licenced cancelled after screwing over migrants who put their faith in the IAA. Barry Smedts is quoted as saying:
He said it was important for migrants to use consultants listed on the register of licensed immigration advisers so they had a better chance of getting compensated for illegal or inappropriate immigration advice.
Which is actually really bizarre. Surely the whole point of the licencing regime is to tell migrants who they can trust to give them advise and be their agents – rather than a mechanism to compensate then when the licensees rip them off? Isn’t a bit arse about face? Archina Devi’s clients used a consultant listed on the register – which is what they are told to do. It’s great that they get compensation – but that won’t make up for the waste of their time and the broken dreams.
As the register it is actually Barry Smedts that puts his name and signature to that license and tells immigrants that the agent is professional and can be relied upon. Yes they get some compensation – but wouldn’t it be better to have not given out these licences to people who clearly should never have been granted one? Devi has had 4 complaints already dealt with by the tribunal (Barry Vs Devi – this last one is at the bottom of the list of cases) – that’s not just a case of stuffing up an application – that’s ongoing incompetence. How can you be that bad and have got a licence?
(Trying something new here and uploading the file to Scribd because the Justice Dept Website makes linking to these decsions a right pain in the neck).
I actually can understand the awful situation that the IAA have been placed in – there should be around 2000 agents licenced but after 2 and half years there are still only 505 (398 full licences)(and that’s gone down). Just 15 people have been refused licences. I really do wonder of there is pressure to grant licences because without that – there just wouldn’t be any agents.
Most professionals have to become a professional and THEN get the licence. You actually have to work your butt off, study, train, sit exams and then you ask a higher body to allow you to join them in a professional body.
You do not send someone a couple of client files, answer a couple of questions (answers found with a quick Internet search) and get a piece of paper and claim you are professional. A licence does not and never will make a profession. Immigration agents are and always will be an industry – not a profession.
The good news here is that the Tribunal is doing its job – and quite well in my opinion. It is the IAA that are letting people down. It concerns me that the fines are so low though – around $2000 (though they also have to pay compensation). The fines for giving illegal immigration advice can be upto $100,000 (that’s what I could be landed with if I were to help people for free), but the fines been given out to agents with a licence who rip their clients off is a paltry $2000.
Please forgive me if I think that’s just ludicrous, and offensive.
Filed under: Getting to New Zealand, Hubby's Views, Immigration Advisers
The IAA has just published the results of their third annual survey of client satisfaction with licensed immigration advisers. And what a fascinating read it is – No really, I mean that.
There were 5,781 immigrants invited to respond and 721 of them responded. So, the satisfaction of 721 people out of approx 45,000 emigrants to NZ are intended to give us a representative picture of how much better NZ would be if only everyone used a licensed immigration adviser.
The visa types for these 721 people is also interesting. 40% for Work visas, 20% Student, 20% Residency(what were the other 20%? ). So at least 60% of the survey respondents were actually applying for a Temporary visa. Not Permanent Residency. Seems like a lot of temporary visa’s still being dished out with a chunky advisers costs attached.
Oh and 5781 people, across approx 500 advisers. So that’s an average of just eleven clients successfully through the end of the immigration process a year. Sheesh – no wonder immigration agents have to charge so much if their professionalism & efficiency only manages to succeed with eleven clients in a year.
Lets put that into numbers shall we?
Just 12% of emigrants, including those on temporary visas, decided to use a licensed adviser in the past year. For a service which is supposed to be made sooo much better and easier by having a licensed professional on the case for you..
The Executive Summary can be found here. It must be the only exec summary I’ve read in the past five years that goes on for eight pages.. Executive = doesn’t have the time to read the full report and needs a one page summary.
Ho hum, then again I am the sort of person who will read the whole 50 page report with appendices of statistical analysis. Short of conducting the survey myself, reading the full report is as close as you’ll get to doing original research – rather than parroting the officially approved line.
Still, moving on.
The actual summary page, first link above, provides some interesting snapshots.
The satisfaction benchmark is 65%. Hmm, seems a bit low. One in three customers not being satisfied is acceptable performance? Most customer sat surveys I’ve seen or heard companies rave on about set a benchmark of at least 80%.
In terms of Adviser Performance I find it most interesting that there are two area’s showing ‘below’ satisfactory performance;
information about Treaty of Waitangi and Maori customs/traditions (44%); and
providing services for a reasonable cost (64%).
Hmm – so irrespective of whether you were happy with your adviser or not, Price is still one area that advisers don’t even meet the paltry 65% satisfaction level.
The next nugget is even more fascinating, the satisfaction with exempt advisers.
You what?? After all the rigmarole about how fantastic it must be for emigrants to use properly licensed advisers, they don’t actually do a better job than a random lawyer or Citizens Advice Bureau adviser? (clearly this does not apply to “advice” you can get for free off immigration forums or blogs – that would obviously cause you a great deal of harm and cause your intestines to explode through your eyes.)
Still, the highlights tell us that in all the important scoring area’s there wasn’t anywhere that exempt advisers scored better than properly licensed advisers.
Except when you look at how many people were ‘very satisfied’. This is your 80% customer satisfaction benchmark, and only 43% of people using a licensed adviser were very satisfied. Compared with 50% who used an exempt adviser.
Interestingly, when Avalon wrote to the Immigration Minister a second time on this issue after receiving the obligatory fob-off and they tried to use the current sat survey to impress upon is how good these advisers were – she said:
In fact the survey also shows that Immigrants prefer the service given by the Exempt agencies – so once again – it’s hardly something the Immigration Agent Industry should be proud of. It suggests that potential immigrants would be best advised to employ the services of a lawyer and stay well away from Immigration Agents.
Hmm -looks like the situation has not improved in the last 2 years then. And they have some way to go then on more than meeting a clients expectations and really delivering a high quality professional service then! Overall satisfaction still remains at 75%, so three years into a licensing regime and those licensed advisers aren’t doing much better overall.Also – I just love it when statistics don’t actually show what people tell you they show – and I really dislike that the people tell us hope we are too dumb to notice.
Still on the positive side, the survey does show that an increasing number of clients of licensed advisers are satisfied with individual aspects of what their adviser does. Which in itself is a good thing, but still doesn’t answer why the vast majority of emigrants still don’t bother with licensed advisers. Presumably becuas ethey know its a rampant rip-off. And to be honest – most of the people that do really don’t need to. There just isn’t enough added value to justify the amount of money it will cost you. The actual step-by-step process to migrate to New Zealand is not that complicated. The thing that makes it hard for some people is the shite service and behavior of INZ – and no “adviser” is going to make that easier to deal with. I have still not met a single migrant whose agent actually dealt with the issues rather than just pass the crap back to the migrant to deal with.
Save your $$$ – you will need it to buy coffee with!
Lets get one thing absolutely clear. No One can guarantee you a visa.
If an agent – licenced or otherwise says they can. They are lying.
So why are they still doing it - and why are people still falling for it? This isn’t new – agents have always done it and immigrants have always fallen for it- but with licencing – this should have stopped. So it is with a high level of concern that I read on stuff that a couple have been screwed by a Licenced Agent and have lost $6,500 to the jackass.
An English woman says she is “heartbroken” that her dream of living in Nelson was destroyed after a Golden Bay immigration adviser lost his licence last month.
British resident Nicola McGeorge said she and her husband Andrew lost all their hard-earned savings, and their dream of moving to New Zealand, after Glen Standing, owner of immigration advisory company Living New Zealand, was unable to help them.
The company went into liquidation last month after Mr Standing was fined more than $20,000 and had his licence cancelled by the Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal for giving wrong advice to a client.
Unfortunately you don’t seem to be able to link directly to a single decision at the IACDT – which I think is just lousy. But there are 2 claims against Glen Standing that you can read. This is probably the reason he has gone into liquidation – fines and compensation over 2 cases totally more than $20,000. Reading the documents – I have absolutely no sympathy – not only did he give crap advise, he lied to cover it up (well there’s a shock – but why is it OK for INZ staff to do that but costs Agents thousands of $$$?) His company also held back passports until fees has been paid – something that was at the heart of the reasons for setting up the IALA in the first place.
But again in saying that – the whole point of the IALA was to stop people like Tuariki Delamere being able to operate as an Immigration agents – and he has a licence.
Mrs McGeorge claims that Mr Standing promised he could get her husband an IT job, and told them they had to be prepared to move within three months.
The couple, who have a five-month-old daughter, made an initial payment of $6500 but then heard nothing from Mr Standing, who did not reply to their emails or requests for phone calls, she said.
Mrs McGeorge had already made a complaint to the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA) when she found out from Mr Standing that his company was in liquidation.
She said Mr Standing offered to carry on their job search, but she declined and asked for their file of personal documents to be returned.
Now I firmly believe that Immigration agents should immediately stop acting as recruitment agents and promising that they can get people jobs. In exactly the same way they demand that anyone not licenced to be an immigration agent cant possible do the job as well as they can – it is sheer unadulterated hypocrisy to claim that immigration agents can act as recruitment agents. They should stop conning people. They should be told by the IAA that it is not their job to do that – and they should be forced to hand clients over to proper job agencies.
She had applied to the liquidators of Mr Standing’s company, but it looked unlikely that they would get their money back, given the amount he owed, she said.
After contacting other clients of Mr Standing, she was “horrified” to receive more than 10 emails from people all over the world who had similar experiences with him, Mrs McGeorge said.
“Several of these people had to go back home and write off the money as a bad experience.
“Some have complained to the IAA, like me, but others didn’t know what to do.”
It shocks me that even now people using licenced agents don’t know how to make complaints. I would say this is a failing of the IAA – perhaps they should spend less time working with INZ to get the best deal for their agents and spend more time doing what they are supposed to do - protecting the immigrants.
She said she was “heartbroken”, as she and her husband could not afford to replace the money they had lost.
“Our dream of moving to New Zealand has crashed. We visited back in 2009 and loved it and the people.”
Mr Standing said the contractual agreement Living New Zealand had with clients was to obtain residency for them not to find them a job.
Hes used this excuse at the tribunal – they didn’t think much of it either.
“We assisted people to get a job, but we did not guarantee anyone a job. It was down to them to get it, not us. The employer employs them ultimately. We just broke down the barriers to that did the vetting and guaranteed a visa, which makes that transition into the process a lot smoother and easier.”
Seriously – when is the IAA going to take a stand in this. It is just not possible – INZ are the SOLE agency that has the power to grant a visa. No agent can guarantee how INZ will decide. They can tell you they are pretty sure you will be able to get through – but they cannot guarantee you a Visa.
Mr Standing said he had about 140 clients when the company went into liquidation.
He was “surprised” to hear of unhappy clients, and no-one had contacted him with complaints, Mr Standing said.
Clients had to be patient, as “the liquidation of a business is not a two-minute job”, but he said those owed money would “absolutely get that money back”.
Actually it’s highly unlikely. Liquidation is not an easy process. Client fees should be safe because they should be in a separate trust account – but then on of the cases against Glen Standing suggests they he didn’t operate the trust account properly so it’s anyone’s guess if that money is still there.
The liquidators were working through that now, and were looking at selling the business, and database, he said.
There had been some interest from potential buyers, including immigration advisers, who could take on existing clients.
He was also able to continue working in an administrative role, and was currently dealing with quite a few existing clients in that capacity, he said.
I would be very wary if I was one of those and I would be getting my money out and dealing with my application direct.
He was unable to say how much in total he owed clients or other businesses.
A spokesman for the Immigration Advisers Authority said they had received a further two complaints against Mr Standing after his licence was cancelled on August 15.
Authority registrar Barry Smedts said $45,000 had been awarded to migrants by the tribunal in the last month.
Anyone who had received bad immigration advice could complain to the authority, he said.
“People can raise the issue even if the adviser is no longer working in immigration.
“The law allows complaints up to two years after an adviser’s licence expires, is cancelled or surrendered.”
Anyone thinking of using a licensed adviser should check the authority’s online register of licensed immigration advisers first.
“This way you know their advice is of a set standard and you are more likely to get your money back if things go wrong.”
Actually it doesn’t – as this case shows. All the IAA list does is shows you who get a licence – it does NOT show you that the advise is of a set standard. The advice coming out of some of these licenced agents is laughable – be clearly that Glen Standing is not the only agent pulling this kind of crap – hes just one unlucky enough to have pissed of clients who are prepared to complain. We know of plenty of people fobbed off with the same crap advice – they just didn’t complain and left NZ in disgust. You are also not more likely to get your money back – especially if the agent liquidates – which is common practice here in NZ.
I think it is telling that in all the tribunal decisions I have read through, the statement that keeps coming up from the tribunal is:
To establish the profession, a relatively low threshold was applied.
I think this is something that people must remember. Very few agents are registered – but there were very low standards applied for them to get a license – so it cannot be trusted. Until such time as these people have to undergo proper professional level training – they will never be a profession. Giving someone a piece of paper and a seal does not make them a professional.
I wish the McGeorge’s all the luck in the world and I hope that eventually they get to make their dream come true. Hopefully they will now have learned that trusting an Immigration Agent is no better now after licencing than it was before. If you want to immigrate to New Zealand YOU must learn the ropes and understand the processes – doing that will save you thousands of dollars and a whole heap of hassle. If you want to use an Agent – fair enough – that’s your choice – but do not assume that because they have the licence they will know what they are doing – and do not fall for they crap that using Licenced Immigration Agent will guarantee you a visa. It won’t.
On the plus side – at least the tribunal is finally up and running and doing something. Bit I think it also needs to be said that all this – and proper qualifications – needed to be in place BEFORE licencing came into affect instead of this half cocked silly mess we have now.
The hat tip for this goes to Iain Macleod of Immagine, an Immigration agency with 4 licenced advisers. And a good blog.
It seems that Iain, like us, likes numbers, and has been tracking immigration numbers and noticed declining numbers of skilled migrants being chosen out of the pool. There has always been a “quota” of about 45,000 immigrants a year allowed in, and that has always been split between the various types of visa with about 27,000 of that supposed to come from skilled or business migrants. Now it appears that they have done away with the yearly quota for skilled migrants, and instead brought in a 3 year rolling target of 135,000 – 150,000 total immigrants across all streams.
According to Iain:
Over the past twelve months or so we uncovered what we believed to be a fundamental untruth being perpetuated by our Government on potential skilled migrants. This was that they had no real intention of approving their 27,000 (plus or minus 10%) quota of skilled migrants but nor did they want to officially ‘cut’ numbers. So they manipulated the number of EOI’s selected each fortnight and selected one third fewer EOI’s every two weeks. In other words they cut numbers…
By the end of the immigration year on 30 June they approved, at best 14% fewer skilled migrants than their lowest quota suggested they should. Or about 25% fewer than their upper quota.
History tells us that in order to meet the annual quota of 27,000 migrants around 750 EOI’s needed to be selected each fortnight from the ‘pool’.
Now, this may surprise some people (though it actually shouldn’t)- but I have to say I am damned impressed with this guy and this company. Firstly they noticed. Then they checked. Then they asked for confirmation. Then they spoke out. And it is not always easy to work through numbers provided by INZ – we have done so a number of times and sometimes it can take an awful lot of digging to find what you want.
Official approaches to the Department of Immigration were met with the usual stone-walling and eventually ended with ‘we are satisfied we are selecting enough EOI’s to meet our targets’. I said at the time that was simply ‘bull’. You didn’t have to be Einstein to see the math simply didn’t add up. Either the Department was lying, they can’t do math or they were being told to cut their numbers by the Government. I speculated it was the latter.
Then a few weeks ago I finally received from the Head of the Immigration Department a rather feeble justification and tacit confirmation that our analysis had been right all along. They did cut numbers.
It is not about ‘quantity but quality’ was the official line. This is another way of saying, yes we cut the numbers but didn’t want to tell anyone.
As the economy improves we will increase the numbers of EOI’s being selected he said. This is another way of saying, yes we know we were never going to meet our annual quota but trust us we may at some point actually be honest and look to issue the number of skilled migrant visas our Residence Programme says we will.
Ok, now I really like these guys. And it is somewhat comforting to know that INZ will try and fob off agents as well as us mere mortals! But also really good to see an agent prepared to actually call INZ out on it.
So basically, unless you are tracking the selection numbers each fortnight, you would have missed this. When we applied (way back in the mists of time when the SMC was new) we did just that, in a frantic effort to see how long it was going to be before we got selected. But most people do not do this.
So, here’s the proof that what Iain is saying is actually true. These are tables taken straight from the PDF’s that come out at each selection of Skilled Migrants out of the EOI pool.
Table 1: February 2009 – February 2010
Be aware – it is now a lot harder to emigrate to New Zealand! Basically no job – no visa.
One of the “joys” of blogging is the inevitable spam – but we use Akismet as a spam filter, so we really don’t have to wade through much of it. Every so often I clear out the blog’s spam filter, and did just that a few weeks ago – when I didn’t have pages and pages of the stuff to work through. I came across 2 comments apparently from Woburn International (Licenced Immigration Agents)- that Akismet had filtered as spam:
Now, these aren’t “typical” spam, in that unlike most spam, they actually relate to the post they comment on. Most spam is gibberish, just like spam you get in your email box, and is produced by spambots – it’s all automated, and relies on the blog not having a spam filter and the blogger not having comments needing moderation for first time commenters. The first one actually responds to a previous comment :
June 17th, 2011 at 11:10 pm
Well, a bachelor’s degree from an Indian or Indonesian university does not mean there are heaps of job waiting for you in NZ.
Even if you are fast enough to get in the system in 30 seconds as one had to this year.
These visas are a joke. The system needs to be mended and made simpler, but not like this.
And – the web address actually takes you to the real Woburn International Website – complete with IAA licencing logo, and the principle Licenced Adviser at Woburn International is one June Ranson. And it really is June’s email address, as listed on the IAA website. So why is “June” - A licenced adviser – leaving comments on an Immigration blog, pretending to be a client of Woburn International and saying how great they are?
And WHY would you do such a crappy job of it? I mean if you are going to say “Use this company – they are really great and they really helped me” – WHY oh WHY would you use the email and web address of the company?
Well, thats where the IP address comes in – it’s logged to the Philippines.
Which suggests (and it is only a suggestion) that Woburn are paying people offshore to leave comments on blogs and websites to drum up business. It’s a really shitty and stupid way of “internet marketing” and tends to get you nothing more than a bad reputation – but still – many people do it – often because they have been told by some internet marketing “guru” that it will drive loads of traffic to their website.
Now there is obviously a chance that this is not June Ranson, and that Woburn International have nothing to do with this. So I sent them a message through their “Contact us” page on the 23rd June, asking if it is legitimate and if they really did send the comments. I did get a response, and have tried to work with the company on this, and given them a few opportunities to come clean, but they currently deny all knowledge of it. I have explained where the problem seems to lie, and that this is actually quite serious. You see there is another alternative – which is that someone is deliberately trying to crash the companies reputation and get their website listed as spam – which is something I have suggested to them. I am still getting no response other than the first response which is that they didn’t do it.
Unfortunately – this is not something that can “accidental happen”. Either someone at Woburn is paying someone to do this, or someone is deliberately trying to muddy Woburn’s reputation.
Only now, a few weeks later, I have another comment left on the blog, this time with a private hotmail email address, but still linking to Woburn’s website. So having taken the time to alert the company to the fact that they should not be doing this – they carry on doing it. The third comment is better – in that the English is much improved, and doesn’t outright pretend to be a client telling you all you should use Woburn because they are so good. But it is still someone commenting on a blog and attempting to drive traffic to the Woburn website, and not openly commenting as someone who works for the company. It’s also still coming in from a Philippines IP address.
The first comment shows a typical spam comment.
Sloppy – completely unprofessional – and shocking behaviour from the company of someone who was not only one of the first agents to get a licence, but also sat on the IAA advisory board. But then this is not the first time that Woburn have tried to use this blog for free advertising. When I first started highlighting issues with the Immigration Advisers Licencing Act, one of their staff made numerous comments here, and in the end was banned for being abusive. He had offered to act as a “supervisor” for my posts, and I then found out he was not licenced – so actually not legally allowed to make that offer. When I questioned him about it, he became abusive. He also claimed that he could get away with it because he knew people in the IAA, so he was not concerned about the possibility of me making a complaint.
And these people want to be taken seriously as a “profession”. Get real!
So I am now giving them (free of charge) the advertising they so desperately want. Much good may it do them – and serve them right. Dishonesty like this is is actually also in contravention of the Code of Conduct that all Licenced Advisers sign up to:
I personally think that paying people to pretend (badly) to be a client of your own company and leave false and fake comments all over the internet is covered by that. The third commenter has also started writing articles on article directories, which also link through to Woburn’s website – without ever saying in the article that he is writing on behalf of a company looking to make money out of selling Immigration “Advice”.
This one will be going to the IAA complaint section, because I am actually quite upset at an immigration agent trying to use my blog like this. I have given Woburn every opportunity to clear this up and I am being ignored. The person I was dealing with directly was very polite (and happens to be someone who worked for INZ and treated me very kindly – so I held off doing anything about this until this third attempt to blag free advertising via my blog) however agents need to be told that if they want to claim they are worthy of licencing – they need to start behaving like professionals.
It’s not as if the code of conduct they have to agree to is at all strenuous or complicated. Real professionals have entire books of codes of ethics to deal with.
I personally doubt that the IAA will take this any more seriously than Woburn has, but then if the comments from Ivan Flynn were anything to go by – I guess they feel they have nothing to worry about, and they will be protected by their influence with the IAA. But the fact remains that while IAA licenced advisers keep pulling this kind of crap, people such as myself and Move2NZ are not going to take the licence seriously, or the people who get it. And if any Advisers out there want to know why this blog wont actually just shut up and go away? Well – this is why. I was berated quite rudely a while back by an agent who objected to my continuing dislike of the industry, and told in no uncertain terms that I should say nice things instead. Well, as I said then – I would love to, it’s just that it’s actually not my fault that companies like this refuse to follow the IAA rules and behave appropriately.
My “advise”? Stay well away from Woburn International and if you really must use an immigration agent – use one that advertises honestly and puts it’s name to it’s adverts – and preferably has the decency to pay for its advertising through proper channels.
In November 2009, a few months after this blog appreared in the New Zeaalnd Herald, the IAA released a news letter than states:
When is a blog a breach?
Licensed immigration advisers will be aware that the Immigration Advisers Authority strives to take an educative approach to any individual whose activities appear to be in breach of the Act. As a general rule, we’d prefer to encourage people into the licensed adviser community, than hound them out of the industry.
Much of the recent media interest in the Authority has been as a result of complaints from individuals who host websites. There have been recent instances when people have approached the Authority asking for clarification of their particular circumstances. We have given guidance to these individuals on whether their activities appear to breach the Act.
People who occasionally visit migrant websites and discuss their personal experiences as a migrant in response to questions from prospective migrants would appear to be exempt under Section 11(a) of the Act (providing ‘immigration advice in an informal or family context only, so long as the advice is not provided systematically or for a fee’) but website hosts, who lead and direct discussion topics, may be operating in a systematic manner.
We encourage migrant website bloggers to work alongside a licensed immigration adviser or exempt person, to ensure the information on their site is accurate and up-to-date.
Since this came out, my question has always been – why on earth is there a difference in the eyes of the IAA between me writing on a blog and me writing on a forum. The cynical answer is that forum posters are a lot more anonymous than bloggers, something that Mr Smedts agreed with. But just because you can find me and prosecute me, doesn’t make what I do (or not do) any more or less illegal just because of where I do it. We talked at length about this, and to be honest, I am not sure I got my point across. This is a huge issue when people in positions of power make decisions when they clearly do not understand what they are talking about.
Mr Smedts just doesn’t know what the difference between a blog and a forum is. In fact, if I go back and look at my early emails, the language from the IAA shows a huge incomprehension of the world of the internet – referring to forumites as “chatters”. The fact is, if giving “advice” is illegal, and if someone somewhere would bother to define that in a way that doesn’t require logical gymnastics, then it should be illegal whether you speak it, write it on a forum, write it on a blog, write it in a Newspaper or write it in a book.
The minute you class one method of giving advice as fundamentally different from any others, you totally invalidate your argument. The minute you say that “I” am automatically giving advice systematically, but someone writing on a forum isn’t, then you have stepped way over the line.
So let’s look at the numbers.
I have explained to Mr Smedts that in over 2 years of writing this blog, I have written a massive 22 blogs which could be considered “advisory” in nature – out of 688 – or 3.2% of my posts. As compared with over 1500 posts I made on the ENZ forum in 18 months, of which literally hundreds were giving people specific advice and information in answer to very specific questions.
This is what forums do – people ask questions and other people answer them. Whereas on a blog – someone like me waffles on about what interests them: we do not answer questions as a whole, and while comments are made – its nothing like the question and answer sessions that go on on forums, something I would certainly deem to be systematic- you ask a question, I (or any one of the thousands of members) answers it to the best of our knowledge based on our own experience and what we look up.
Anyone else think this is just a little barmy?
New Zealand politics seems to have a real bee in it’s bonnet over blogs. They seem to think we are all subversive, troublemakers and that anything written by us is automatically dangerous to the rest of the public. I have no idea how you fight that level of silliness and lack of understanding – we just could not successfully explain to Mr Smedts that he was totally barking up the wrong tree on this issue.
Of course – the fact that this is possibly the only NZ Immigrant blog currently being written that isn’t a personal lifestyle blog is also lost on them (as far as I know anyway)
Another blogger in NZ is being sued for $250,000 for defamation after writing about Peter Jansen, a senior medical adviser at ACC. It’s a tiny blog (even smaller than mine – with less views and followers- 15 in fact), and yet Dr Jansen believes that the harm and embarrassment received from this blog is worth suing over. And totally lost is the fact that as happened with Avalon’s Guide – the issue got into the media BECAUSE of his action, and worse – ended up on Kiwiblog – the most popular and widely read blog in NZ, let alone being splashed all over the papers, internet in general and in parliament. Now everyone knows who he his, and what the blogger alleges he has done (or not done) – and that he was enough of an idiot to take legal action over comments on an arse-end-of-nowhere blog and thus ensure everyone got to see the comments. It’s called the Streisand Effect.
(To put this in context, my blogs gets around 200 “views” a day. Kiwiblog gets around 11,000 views a day. Note to NZ politicians and anyone with any power whatsoever:
WE ARE NOT ALL KIWIBLOG!
And even if we were – we have the right to speak out, and we (should) have the right to offer advise and support to people who ask for it.
Mr Smedts knows that he doesn’t understand this, and has said that he will be looking into this for which I am exceedingly grateful. I have asked him to specifically look at retracting the stance taken in the November 2009 Newsletter, and acknowledge that there is no difference between bloggers, website owners and forum posters. Either we are all breaking the law, or none of us are.