Information to help you get started
Immigration can be a complex matter, but we believe in making it as simple as possible for our clients to understand. On this page are a few common questions and answers to help you get started. If you have a question that isn't covered here, please contact us.
There is also some information about immigration advisers on our advisers page.
Is immigration advice expensive?
It can be, but not always. Immigration advice is a professional service, so fees are charged at a professional level. However a licensed immigration adviser is required by the IAA's Code of Conduct to charge reasonable fees. The actual cost of your immigration matter depends on the complexity of your case. If it is easy and takes little time to resolve then it should not be expensive. However, if it is complex and requires a lot of research to do properly, then it may be more expensive. Please see our costs page for a guide of average costs.
Why should I use an immigration adviser?
To increase your chances of success and decrease your chances of faliure, then you really should be using a licensed adviser. Using an adviser can make the difference between success and failure for an application. It is not compulsory to use an immigration adviser, but a qualified and licensed immigration adviser is a professional who can help you with things that are very difficult to do yourself properly and to the full extent possible. Licensed and qualified advisers are knowledgeable about New Zealand immigration law, and so are able to find a way to help you if one exists. Even native English speakers have lots of problems with NZ immigration law, but if you are not a native speaker we can advocate for you in proper English. Using language correctly, politely and skilfully makes a very big difference to how your Immigration officer understands and treats your situation.
As in a court of law, if you are charged with an offence and you wish to defend yourself then this is usually allowed by the court and some people choose this option. However, if you really don't want to be convicted and want the highest chance of success possible it always makes sense to use a lawyer to argue your case to the court. Only when you don't care about the result would you do this yourself.
Can my employer do my work visa application for me?
In general, no. This is usually illegal and carries a potential fine of up to $100,000 or up to 7 years in jail. Employers can do clerical work if you ask them to, but clerical work is defined as very basic things, filling in the form kind of level. There is a definition of this here. The level of work that is allowable is about the same or less than what you can do yourself. if your employer insists on doing your application, you should let them know that it is illegal as it could cause big problems for you as well if your employer is convicted of such an offense.
What is the difference between a Licensed Immigration Adviser and a Lawyer?
The basic difference is that LIAs are entirely focussed on NZ immigration law and are regulated by the Immigration Advisers Authority. and that lawyers are able to practice a much wider variety of law and are regulated by the NZ Law Society. LIAs only do immigration work and work related to immigration so there is a high level of focussed experience and expertise on immigration. Many lawyers refuse to do immigration work even though they are allowed to do it because it is complex and changeable. So while a registered lawyer is allowed to do immigartion work they are not always the best choice if they are not completely focussed on this area.
Most lawyers will usually focus on an area of law they are interested in and not really get involved in other areas. Just because they are a lawyer, it doesn't mean that they are highly skilled in all areas of law. It is analagous to think that not all doctors have the same skills. You probably don't want a gynacologist doing brain surgery for example. When you have a legal issue you should find a lawyer who has a lot of knowledge and experience in the area of law that your problem is. As immigration is one area of law, this applies the same, and licensed immigration advisers are able to do all the same work in this area of law that lawyers are able to do.
Additionally LIAs must be licensed, in many cases must be qualified and are generally well regulated, but in contrast, any office worker working in a lawyers office can do immigration work, so in bigger lawyers officers there is no guaranteethat the person preparing your application is actually a lawyer.
If I want to get immigration advice, what should I do first?
If you don't know where to start, e-mail us with a detailed description about your problem or question, and we will guide you. It doesn't cost anything to ask, and we are happy to help you. If there will be a cost, we will tell you before starting the work.
If you would like more information about how to contact us, visit the contact page information section
What are the common mistakes people make with their visa applications?
Actually for many people the most common mistake is not using a professional to manage their immigration matter. Not getting professional assistance with legal matters is leaving a lot of things to chance. Your application may be approved, it may be declined, but it is just good or bad luck then. Other common mistakes we often see are:
- People waste their post study work visa on irrelevant but easy to get jobs. The post study work visa is a great opportunity, but working at a fast food restaurant on minimum wage is not going to lead to the next stage.
- People waste their working holiday visas on unfocussed activities. If the purpose of your working holiday is just to take a break from your life at home for a year and then return, then just have fun! However, many people imagine that their working holiday might become the first step to living in New Zealand, only to find that they are unable to progress to the next step.
- Underestimating the difficulty of English. It is truly amazing the number of people who mistakenly believe that their English will become fluent just by being in an English speaking country.
- Believing that what other people have done before is always possible. New Zealand immigration instructions change frequently and the interpretation of some instructions are quite flexible. It is extremely foolish to think that what has worked for someone in the past will work for you.
- Not having enough money or time to do the application properly. In general an application will require a certain amount of time and money to do it properly If you don't have enough of either then your chances of success become much less. You should find out how much time and money is necessary and then decide if you will try once you have this information
- Thinking that Immigration New Zealand is a customer service oriented organisation. INZ is a department of the NZ Government and they act accordingly. No person is entitled to a visa and INZ will constantly remind you of this fact. Even if you do actually meet the visa criteria you will be declined if you can't clearly prove that you do.
What is the difference between set fees and hourly rate?
A set fee covers all work that might be involved in an application, even when the unexpected comes up. When we charge a set fee for an application this includes; preparing the documentation and evidence, helping and guiding the client to get the right documents and evidence, checking them, giving guidance on how things need to be adjusted when possible, helping employers, partners, etc do the same, making and submitting the application, defending the client against INZ's arguments, answering information request and PPI letters and passing on and explaining the final result. This means that often there is a lot of work done at no cost, but it also means that we will try to make the strongest application possible so that it is approved without needing any extra work.
With hourly rate fees the client pays for all the time spent on the application. This can be very expensive if we also have to deal with the usual issues brought up by INZ. Case officers willl try to dcline a visa if at all possible, and so every time they ask for more information, or try to make a point about why they will decline the application, the research, preparation and response time can all add up.
In most cases a response to a PPI by itself at an hourly rate can almost cost the same as the set fee for doing the whole application properly from the start.