Anyone who uses their knowledge of immigration law to advise another person on New Zealand immigration matters could be providing ‘immigration advice’ and must be licensed, or exempt from licensing. There are significant penalties for people who provide advice without a licence.

Immigration advice that needs a licence

Only a licensed immigration adviser or a person who is exempt from licensing can give advice on New Zealand immigration matters. This applies whether the advice is direct or indirect, and whether or not the advice is paid for.

New Zealand immigration matters can include:

  • choosing the right visa
  • completing a visa application
  • settling into New Zealand life
  • assessing whether or not it’s worthwhile appealing a decision to decline a visa application
  • assessing the options for people who are in New Zealand unlawfully.

Do I need a licence?

Information that’s not immigration advice

You’re not giving immigration advice if:

  • you provide information that’s publicly available or is from the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment, eg generic information from this website
  • you tell someone to get advice from someone who can legally provide it, eg a list of licensed immigration advisers
  • you’re an employee of a licensed immigration adviser or lawyer and you carry out clerical work for them, eg filing documents, data entry
  • you provide translation or interpreting services
  • you help migrants settle into New Zealand community life New Zealand life, eg finding a school or a home.

Do I need a licence?

When information becomes advice

Information becomes advice if you tailor it to an individual’s particular circumstances. If you do this you must be licensed to give immigration advice or exempt from licensing.

To become a licensed immigration adviser, you must both:

  • complete an approved qualification or entry courses, or be registered as a migration agent in Australia
  • apply to the Immigration Adviser’s Authority (IAA) for a licence.

Graduate Diploma in New Zealand Immigration Advice

Become a licensed adviser

Licensed immigration advisers

Licensed immigration advisers (LIAs) are licensed by the Immigration Adviser’s Authority (IAA) to provide specialist immigration knowledge.

Licensed immigration advisers must:

  • be honest, professional and respectful
  • provide you with ongoing, timely updates
  • charge fees that are fair and reasonable
  • meet competency standards and follow a Code of Conduct set by the IAA.

Code of Conduct

Competency Standards

The IAA keeps a register of LIAs. If an adviser doesn’t appear on the register, then they are unlicensed.

Licensed Immigration Adviser Register

Advisers exempt from licensing

Some people who give immigration advice are exempt from licensing. The following people do not need a licence.

People who provide informal advice

You are exempt if you provide advice in an informal or family context and the advice is not provided systematically or for a fee.


Lawyers who hold current practising certificates as a barrister and barristers and solicitors of the High Court of New Zealand are exempt.

New Zealand Community Law Centre employees

New Zealand Community Law Centre employees and volunteers are exempt as long as there’s one or more lawyer on its employing body or supervising its work.

Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) employees and volunteers

Employees and volunteers of a New Zealand Citizens Advice Bureau are exempt.

Offshore advice relating to student visa applications

Anyone who gives immigration advice about student visa applications outside of New Zealand is exempt.

MPs and their staff

New Zealand Members of Parliament and members of their staff are exempt if it’s part of their employment agreement to provide immigration advice as.

New Zealand public servants

New Zealand public servants are exempt if it’s part of their employment agreement to provide immigration advice.

Foreign diplomats and consular staff

Foreign diplomats are exempt under the Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities Act 1968. Consular staff are exempt under the Consular Privileges and Immunities Act 1971.