Archive for the ‘Recruitment’ Category

A chilling comment on licensing

March 7, 2015

Reading the following sentence, attributed to Lyn Sparks of Business Immigration Ltd in a news article today put chills down my spine:

“We get licensed every year don’t we”

Mr Sparks was apparently replying to questions about his activities following complaints lodged by 66 of his clients that he had breached the strict rules licensed immigration advisers must adhere to. His implication appears to be that he must be acting properly because he is licensed each year by the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA).

The article explains:

All workers have similar complaints – primarily that they were charged fees of up to $15,000 for a job in New Zealand through Business Immigration and its overseas agents. Many took out loans in the Philippines to cover the fees, and were paying between 40 per cent and 50 per cent annual interest.


The reason I find this comment attributed to Mr Sparks chilling is that he appears to be using the status afforded by a poorly implemented but well-meaning licensing regime to prey on migrants.

This comment of course is entirely misleading and highlights deep problems with the licensing of immigration advisers which has dogged the system since its introduction in 2009 such as:

  1. Protection for consumers only applies to immigration services
    Section 44 of the Immigration Advisers Licensing Act 2007 only allows the IAA to accept complaints against advisers regarding “provision of immigration advice”. While you might expect advisers to be held to account for any actions as a professional that’s not the case at all. Advisers getting up to no good in any other area – for example recruitment – have nothing to fear from the IAA as any complaint will be rejected.

    History has shown that the IAA will only act (for example to take away a licence) if the individual is convicted of a crime under another piece of legislation. This issue was raised back in 2009 but requires a change in the law and nothing has happened about this.As a result the actions of advisers charging for job search services are not covered at all by the licensing rules with few people realising this, creating opportunities for the unscrupulous.

  2. No test of competence
    While many long-standing advisers are highly competent this competence, effectively assured by licensing, has never actually been tested. When licensing was introduced in 2009 advisers working in the industry were required only to show three case files (which they picked) to be assessed by IAA staff to confirm the adviser’s competence. This alone is a poor test and I understand the IAA staff assessing these applications had no training or background in immigration.

    From there to renew their license each year advisers only had to provide one case file (which again they picked) to be assessed by the same IAA staff. Interestingly while this process did check business systems it stopped checking prices charged some time ago following pressure from long-standing advisers who did not appreciate being questioned in this regard.

    It wasn’t until 2012 that a level 7 qualification was introduced to provide a test of competence completed to any defined standard, however existing advisers did not have to sit this. Thankfully the IAA is now moving towards a system of randomly checking the work of advisers based on the records of the immigration department. This is excellent as it should identify problems and patterns, but it still will not spot issues like advisers charging excessive fees as suggested in this case.

It will be interesting to see what happens with this story. Mr Sparks has faced complaints and penalties before but is still operating. The IAA has indicated there has been insufficient evidence to take up this case but public awareness of this problem may force their hand.

Under this is the truth that the IAA can only investigate and punish for actions relating purely to the provision of immigration advice and in the past has taken a very narrow view of this, potentially allowing bad advisers to escape punishment as a result.

A strong and robust IAA is badly needed but currently it looks weak and indecisive. Let’s see what is done following these complaints.

Mike Bell

Migrant advocate | licensed immigration adviser


Hospital jobs elude migrants

November 10, 2013

An interesting article in the news today regarding changes to job opportunities for migrant doctors in New Zealand.

New Zealand’s immigration system is intended to bring in key staff to fill skill-gaps. Of course skill gaps change as the New Zealand government create training opportunities to meet these.

In this ever-changing landscape it is important for anyone thinking of coming to New Zealand to have solid information on how badly their skills are needed as well as training or registration requirements.

Medical jobs have always been in demand – they make up half of the Long Term Skill Shortage List – but this article just goes to show that nothing should be relied upon.

Hospital jobs elude migrants

Immigration officials will consider removing general practitioners from a skills shortage list as newly qualified immigrant doctors struggle to find jobs in hospitals.

Despite being New Zealand citizens and passing English and clinical competency exams, migrant doctors say they are being locked out of work.

Their concerns come on top of young Kiwi doctors struggling to find jobs in Auckland on graduation, as revealed last week in the Herald on Sunday.

Doctors from non-western countries must pass a New Zealand Registration Examination (NZREX) and work for a year under observation before they can be registered. Morella Lascurain, an NZREX-qualified doctor who runs a private health centre in Auckland, said the NZREX pathway had become a dead-end street.

She knows of at least 22 doctors from African, Middle Eastern and Asian countries who had passed the exam but were unable to find work as house officers. One of those included an ophthalmologist with 20 years’ experience.

Read the rest of the article on the New Zealand Herald here.

Any medical staff thinking of coming to New Zealand to look for work will need to check carefully that there is demand for their skills and find out what the registration requirements are to work here..

A good place to start checking are the District Health Boards throughout New Zealand. These usually have good HR staff and can give you good feedback on where they are struggling to find key staff .

Mike Bell

Mike is architect of migrant community, a migrant advocate, and a qualified and licensed immigration adviser.

NZ Recruitment: beware the dark side

December 21, 2011

Migrants are often viewed by disreputable companies as easy money and traditionally less ethical recruitment businesses have targeted skilled workers on the basis that they are often poorly informed, cashed up and (best of all) in another country thousands of miles away making it hard for them to come and complain.

New Zealand Immigration policy has made the job offer such a core requirement for the majority of applicants that many people are caught in a catch-22 situation where they need to interview in New Zealand to get a job, but can’t fully commit to their move without a solid job offer.

As a result many people are desperate and willing to pay large sums of money for the promise of employment.

Unfortunately like most promises of this kind you rarely get what you pay for. Rather than the job offer you are much more likely to end up in the same position without a big chunk of cash as many of these businesses will keep taking more and more money until you give up.

Finding work in New Zealand
It’s never been that easy to get a job in New Zealand and almost impossible for most people unless they are willing to come here and meet potential employers.

The recruitment industry is fairly large and links jobseekers and employers together. While most companies just link people together (and take a large payment from the employer for doing so) there are some consultants who perform important services around vetting and psychometric testing for specific roles and of course some actively head-hunt top staff.

What links these businesses together is that they are generally reputable and the employer almost always pays for the new applicant not the jobseeker. Charging the jobseeker is very unusual in New Zealand (and generally a bad sign), charging the employer and the jobseeker (‘double dipping’) is a really bad sign.

The dark side
Before the recession hit New Zealand there were more and more companies targeting vulnerable and desperate migrants promising they could find them a job without the need to come to New Zealand.

Move2nz came across one such company – NewjobZ – in 2005 soon after launching and quickly realised they were hiding their fees, slipping nasty surprises into the small-print and not providing services for the majority of their paying customers. Those paying clients they did work with were generally just passed to other recruitment companies who worked normally, could be found for free in the yellow pages, and properly charged the employer when landing a job offer.

Luckily complaints to the Commerce Commission closed this bunch down long ago.

Times have been hard for many recruitment businesses since the recession hit at the start of 2009 and almost all recruitment companies moved completely away from working with speculative migrants – those without a visa allowing them to start work – as employers (and immigration) wouldn’t accept them.

Things are starting to pick up again however with a 10 percent increase in jobs being advertised of the past year and the looming rebuild in Christchurch which is expected to require 8,000+ migrant workers to help out.

Paying for a job

Today I am here to tell you to beware – the first sharks are back in the water.

The first sign I received was an email from a move2nzer – an IT professional from India – who had been working with a reputable licensed adviser. The adviser referred him to a recruitment business who charged a ‘job search fee’ of NZ$1,350 to look for a job.

Interestingly not only did the immigration professional know about this fee, they actually sent out the first invoice. Of course once the fee was paid the recruiter stopped answering emails – it appears it was just a scam.

Thousands of miles away from New Zealand the migrant is stuck. They could complain to the Commerce Commission but are unlikely to see their money ever again and are no closer to getting a job offer.

As the adviser was involved you might think the migrant could complaint to the Immigration Advisers Authority about this, but actually the IAA and Tribunal only cover immigration advice and (unike the law commission who watch lawyers) are not interested if a licensed adviser is found to be less than professional when operating any other service.

Sign #2
The second sign was spotting advertising from a very sharp website aimed at the UK market that was so close in operation to the old NewjobZ I had to check who was running it to make sure it wasn’t the same crowd. Here’s how it works:

  1. You upload your CV onto their database of ‘thousands’ for free;
  2. If you get a job offer and accept it there is an admin fee of $1,295;
  3. The employer also pays a fee if you are placed.

Some might think that’s good – a job offer even though the recruiter is ‘double dipping’ from the jobseeker and employer. But the devil is in the detail. If the employer doesn’t want to pay (and they say “many” employers do not) then you do. In this circumstance:

“…you agree to also pay us a Successful Placement Fee of between 2 and 4 weeks of your expected gross annual remuneration, dependent on circumstance. Fees must be paid within 7 days of receipt of our invoice”

So you end up with a very vague additional bill of between probably $2,000 and $7,500 due within 7 days of starting work – i.e. before you start earning in New Zealand – and have no real ability to check that the employer actually refused to pay.

I should also point out that because of the 90-day ‘fire at will’ policy introduced in New Zealand back in 2009 you can be fired at any point in the first 90 days of employment (whether you have agreed to this in a contract or not) without reason. Previous examples have shown that if this happens you will very probably still have to pay the fee charged by the recruitment business. Money gone, no job.

But wait, there’s more.

With a little digging we also spotted that one of the directors of this company is the founder of one of the largest immigration businesses around.

Reading the small print it turns out that when you upload your free CV you are actually signing up and agreeing that if you get a job offer you will use the immigration services of this immigration business!. That means another bill of several thousand dollars you didn’t know about.

Buyer beware!

In my experience no matter what promises are made and no matter how much you have paid eventually almost all migrants will need to attend interviews in New Zealand to stand a chance of finding work – employers will quite naturally want to meet you before taking a risk on offering you work.

Paying for a job or jobsearch might sound like a good idea but very rarely works out. You are much more likely to end up:

  • in the same position you were (but with a lot less money);
  • paying exorbitant hidden fees;
  • passed on to another business that you could have found yourself for free; or
  • being tied in to a contract with all sorts of extra costs and requirements.

My advice as always is to contact employers direct – preferably by phone – unless you actually have to go through a recruitment company (for example when applying for jobs in local government). No one else can really tell you how employable you are and no one else is likely to offer you a job.

See move2nz’s employment page and articles for details and think before you part with your money.

Wishing you a happy and prosperous 2012.

Mike Bell
Site architect –

This article and many others can be found on – helping migrants become Kiwis since 2005.