A potential amendment to the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007 (IALA) to ensure that lawyers' employees are clearly exempt from the Act's licensing requirements would be welcomed by the New Zealand Law Society.
Practising lawyers are exempt from the IALA's licensing requirements, under section 11(e).
However, there has been some confusion about the scope of the exemption – namely, whether it also applies to the employees of a lawyer, law firm, or incorporated law firm, the Law Society says.
Under the existing regulatory framework, lawyers' employees must be supervised and can be subject to disciplinary action for all work they do and advice they give in assisting their employer.
This ensures the protection of consumers where lawyers' employees assist in providing immigration services, the Law Society says.
On that basis, it recommends the scope of the exemption for employees should be clearly stated in an amendment to the IALA, to explicitly provide that: "an employee of a lawyer, law firm or incorporated law firm may provide immigration services and advice to their employer's client".
The Law Society has also commented on a draft "Best Practice" document for immigration advisers and Immigration New Zealand (INZ) staff about how employees of lawyers may interact with immigration applicants and INZ.
The full commentary can be viewed here.