Licensed immigration Advisers (LIA)
LIAs are specialists in New Zealand immigration law who are regulated by the NZ Government through the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA). All LIAs must be licensed though the IAA and only LIAs, Lawyers and other certain exempt people are legally able to give immigration advice and represent clients to INZ on their behalf.
You can easily check if a person who is giving you immigration advice is a real LIA or not. You should always check this because aside from being illegal to provide immigration advice while not being licensed or exempt, INZ will not process an application made on behalf by an unlicensed person and the advice or service you are given is not likely to be accurate or effective. To check a person's license status, go to www.iaa.govt.nz and search for the adviser. If you can't find the adviser on this website then they are not a real LIA.
What does a Licensed Immigration Adviser do?
The role of an LIA is much more than just giving advice, this is one part of our function and is often the start of the process. An LIA prepares visa applications with respect to the relevant immigration law to present the client's situation to INZ in a manner which shows that the client meets the criteria for a visa. if there are problems, an LIA argues these on points of law to get INZ to accept the situation even when they feel it is not right. There is a wide range of work that we do from giving advice to clients and help them make informed decisions about what is possible and not possible for immigration or living in NZ, right through to legal appeals at the IPT. Much of our work is preparing and submitting visa applications and dealing with immigration New Zealand on a client's behalf.
What is the difference between a Licensed immigration Adviser and a Lawyer?
Some people use the words adviser and lawyer interchangeably but actually we are different. LIAs are not lawyers and lawyers are not LIAs. The main difference is that LIAs only deal with NZ immigration law and some related laws such as Privacy Act, Official Information Act, and so on, whereas lawyers deal with a much wider range of laws and courtroom processes. LIA's can represent clients to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal, but not to the high court or other courts. Lawyers are allowed to give immigration advice but many choose not to because NZ Immigration law is complex and changes often so many lawyers tend to avoid this and focus on other legal work. Immigration advisers only focus on NZ immigration law and so we need to keep up to date with the changes and come to have a very good understanding not only of the immigration law, but of INZ's processes, trends and other things which can affect an application or appeal.
A general lawyer, or a lawyer who specialises in a specific area of law will not usually be an expert in immigration law and even though they are allowed to give immigration advice, a Licensed Immigration Adviser will often be more proficient. LIA's do the same job as a specialist immigration lawyer and there is little difference in these 2 occupations, though skill and experience are important factors.
LIAs who are qualified have a detailed study in immigration law and practice which is now government mandated. Lawyers on the other hand may have taken one immigration paper at university (if available) within the general curriculum of an LLB degree. In terms of immigration law, LIA's have a much more comprehensive and detailed study before becoming qualified.