Immigration advice is regulated by legislation. There’s a licensing regime in New Zealand which is overseen by an authority and registrar. The legislation provides for a range of offences and penalties. Industry issues and enforcement are dealt with by the authority.


The Immigration Advisers Licensing Act (2007) (the Act) aims to protect consumers and enhance New Zealand’s reputation as a destination for migrants. The Act requires people who give New Zealand immigration advice to be licensed, unless they’re exempt from licensing.

Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007

The Immigration Advisers Licensing Regulations (2008) support the Act and provide for a range of licensing fees, including an immigration adviser’s levy.

Immigration Advisers Licensing Regulations 2008

The Act sets up:

  • the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA)
  • the Registrar of Immigration Advisers
  • the Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal.

The Immigration Advisers Authority

The Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA) uses competency standards and a code of conduct to set and monitor standards for licensed immigration advisers (LIAs). The Minister for Immigration approved both documents:

Competency standards

Code of Conduct

The Registrar of Immigration Advisers

The Registrar makes decisions to license immigration advisers and deals with complaints against LIAs.

The Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal

The Tribunal deals with complaints referred by the Registrar and hears appeals about licensing decisions.  It can make decisions like cancelling an adviser’s licence or ordering an adviser to refund their fees.

Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal

Enforcement and penalties

IAA enforcement tools

The IAA uses a range of enforcement tools to make sure licensed advisers meet their obligations under the Act and the Code of Conduct. The IAA promotes self-resolution as the first step in any complaints process. It takes a proactive approach by raising awareness of issues directly with the industry. Beyond this, the IAA can:

  • raise awareness of issues through its website and publications
  • contact advisers directly to work through potential non-compliance issues proactively
  • send warning or information letters to educate advisers
  • inspect an adviser’s premises and gather information if it suspects non-compliance
  • refuse to renew an adviser’s licence if the adviser doesn’t meet competency standards
  • refer complaints to the Immigration Advisers Complaints and Disciplinary Tribunal.

There are offences under the Act relating directly to licensed advisers. It’s an offence to provide false or misleading information to the IAA when applying for, or renewing, a licence. The Registrar, or a person authorised by the Registrar, can enter an adviser’s premises.  It’s an offence under the Act to obstruct them. It’s also an offence for a licensed adviser to fail to notify the Registrar of a change in their circumstances. These offences all have fines of up to $10,000.

Penalties for giving unlicensed advice

It’s an offence to provide immigration advice unless you’re licensed or exempt from licensing. It’s also an offence to receive money for giving unlicensed immigration advice. Both of these offences carry fines of up to $100,000 and/or up to 7 years in prison.

It’s an offence to claim that you are an immigration adviser, or a Licensed Immigration Adviser, when you’re not. People claiming to be immigration advisers face fines of up to $10,000 and/or up to 2 years in prison.

It’s also an offence to employ an unlicensed or non-exempt immigration adviser. An employer who employs or contracts an adviser who is unlicensed, or not exempt, to give advice could face fines of up to $10,000 and/or up to 2 years in prison.

Migrants should check if their adviser is licensed. If an adviser doesn’t appear on the register of immigration advisers and is not exempt, Immigration New Zealand will return their application. We’ll also contact the Registrar of Immigration Advisers.

Ensure your details are correct on the licensed immigration adviser register