In recent times, navigating the complicated landscape of immigration procedures has become increasingly complex. Many individuals seeking to relocate to New Zealand find themselves entangled in a web of misinformation and inadequately handled applications, often due to the involvement of offshore agents lacking the necessary expertise and credentials. The repercussions of such choices can range from minor inconveniences to significant legal hurdles, underscoring the critical importance of entrusting immigration matters to qualified immigration professionals.

Here’s why it’s crucial to choose reputable immigration professionals and how it can make all the difference in your journey to New Zealand.

Understanding the Basics: Who Can Help You?

By law, any individual providing immigration advice for New Zealand must be licensed by the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA), unless exempted such as lawyers holding a current practicing certificate with the New Zealand Law Society. This rule applies worldwide, whether you’re seeking advice from China, India, or anywhere else. The IAA provides a list of who can provide immigration advice on its webpage.

One might assume that all who claim to offer immigration advice possess a comprehensive understanding of New Zealand’s immigration policies and procedures. However, the reality often falls short of this expectation. Not all individuals offering such services possess the requisite expertise or adhere to ethical standards. Hence, it becomes incumbent upon applicants to exercise due diligence when selecting an agent, advisor, or a lawyer.

The Pitfalls of Unreliable Agents: Cautionary Tales

My recent success story serves as a good example of the consequences of using an offshore agent. Our client faced a nightmare scenario due to the negligence of her offshore agent. Her visa application ran into trouble because she failed to declare previous visa declines to INZ in her past applications. Our client was initially given the wrong declaration forms by the agent. The offshore agent provided our client with an Australian character declaration form which did not specifically ask any questions about previous visa declines. This resulted in Immigration New Zealand finding our client to have provided false and misleading information in her previous visa applications which required a character waiver. The immigration instructions require any person who has provided false/misleading information, or withheld information, from INZ to get a character waiver.

The subsequent correspondence between our client and INZ, exacerbated by the agent’s inadequacies, caused significant delays and confusion. Our client was initially unaware of the implications of a character waiver and struggled to comprehend the complexities of the process. It wasn’t until we intervened, clarified the situation and helped in preparing a comprehensive character waiver request that the situation was resolved.

Luckily our client had documented all her interactions with the offshore agent which played a pivotal role in convincing INZ that she did not intend to provide false or misleading information to INZ. The offshore agent acknowledged that they provided our client with the Australian declaration form because they thought that there was not much difference between the Australian and NZ character requirements.  The reality is that it is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure all information provided to INZ is true and correct even if it was the agent who provided this. Eventually, we worked closely with our client, prepared a character waiver request and managed to secure a successful outcome.

Another scenario is where the lack of expertise left an entire family vulnerable to potential deportation for a matter that could have been handled differently if the agent had the required expertise and foresaw the potential consequences. The situation related to a person who was included in her family’s application as a dependent child. A few months before residence was granted, the dependent child got engaged. This meant that she was no longer a dependent child and could not be included in her family’s residence application. INZ were never informed of the changes to the dependent child’s circumstances. After the grant of residence, the dependent child decided to support her partners visa application to New Zealand, and she was assisted by the same agent. The declared start date of the partnership was before the supporting partner secured residence as a dependent child. Now, this becomes a failure to inform INZ of the dependent child’s change of circumstances, and the whole family could face losing residence and being deported.  

Why It Matters: Protecting Your Future

Choosing the right immigration professional isn’t just about convenience — it’s about safeguarding your future. Whether you’re pursuing a work visa, residency, or citizenship, the stakes are high. By opting for licensed advisors or practicing lawyers, you can avoid unnecessary risks and ensure a smoother application process.

In conclusion, the importance of using reputable immigration professionals cannot be overstated. From avoiding costly mistakes to navigating complex procedures, their expertise is invaluable. So, whether you’re just starting your immigration journey or facing obstacles along the way, remember to choose wisely — it could make all the difference.