Immigration advisers and lawyers are describing a climate of fear where they feel targeted for speaking out, with alerts
being put on their records after they make complaints.
Immigration to New Zealand. Photo: RNZ
RNZ has seen redacted files belonging to two licenced immigration advisers (LIAs), one showing alert notes on a file and
another which appears to be a pro-forma checklist with one line marked 'LIA - no LIA warning'.
One of them, who asked not to be named, said even when the alert was deleted on Immigration New Zealand's (INZ's)
adviser files, the alert notes and branch warning remained.
Two other immigration advisers in India, spoken to by RNZ, raised concerns about the repercussions of speaking out, and
asked not to be named.
"If an officer looks up an adviser for any application at all they can see all branch warnings, even if dealt with, and
the associated alert which should not have been raised in the first place by INZ says deleted or expired - it is still
there, " said the adviser.
"The branch warning and alert is on the adviser file, not the applicant's file, so regardless of which application an
officer is working on, if they check the LIA file as they often do they will see this and it must affect the thinking
and attitude of the officer toward that LIA."
One immigration lawyer, Richard Small, said "grey-listings" would lead to applications being slowed down because of
Mr Small said he feared a lot of the pressure came from the current political imperative to keep visa numbers low, and
certain advisers were being vilified.
"It's not acceptable to basically collaterally attack representatives simply because our client groups have become
unpopular or a barrier towards achieving reduced residence figures which I sense that many of them are."
He said senior colleagues were concerned they would be singled out if they raised their voices to complain about
systemic problems or took a client's case to the Ombudsman.
He said it was out of line and showed that risk management was running riot.
INZ visa services manager Michael Carley said when an adviser or lawyer made a complaint it was recorded in its
complaint system so the response could be directed to the correct person.
"INZ will record that an Ombudsman complaint has been made on the complainant's client record, not the person
representing the complainant," said Michael Carley.
"All applications are assessed against immigration requirements. INZ does not place greater scrutiny or priority on
cases where a complaint has been made."