Settling into a new country is a unique experience. Intertwined with the hope for a better life, migrants come to New Zealand for countless reasons like political stability, better working conditions and education, but there is no single reason less important than any other.
However, the visa application process can often be a long, difficult, and drawn-out process. It goes without saying that having an immigration adviser to trust and rely on throughout the immigration process is significantly important. But how do you know who to trust?
The Role of an Immigration Adviser
Immigration advisers are licensed experts who can help you explore and choose the right visa options and assist you with legal services to aid your visa preparation and application. You must only seek advice from licensed immigration advisers who hold a current valid license, which you can verify here.
To hold a license, an immigration adviser must first complete an approved qualification or entry courses but registered migration agents in Australia are also eligible to provide immigration advice. What this means is that you should only trust advice provided by a trained expert in New Zealand’s immigration laws, because legal advice must be reliably accurate and up to date.
It is the responsibility of the visa applicant to ensure that no illegal advice is relied upon. On the unfortunate occasion that you act on illegal advice, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) may turn down your application. Furthermore, there is the risk of dishonesty and fraudulent behaviour, but even if an unqualified adviser was being completely honest, they may simply lack the required knowledge or skills to make your application a success.
Who to Choose
Once you have verified that the adviser is qualified, the true search begins. First, let us clarify a long-standing misunderstanding – the size of the law firm is not what matters. It can be easy to feel attracted to a large law firm, but like any other matters in life, legal service is quality over quantity. The best is not always the biggest.
Instead, there are two most important factors to consider when you choose your immigration adviser or choose which immigration law firm to consult – professional conduct and experience.
Firstly, professional conduct. Immigration advisers are required to act in accordance with the code of conduct. To briefly outline what you should expect from a trustworthy adviser, search for advisers that are honest, professional and respectful to you. Advisers that refuse to identify their name on required visa application documents, or advisers that do not clarify how much fees you will pay for their service are some obvious indications of people you should not trust with your visa application. On top of this, the best immigration advisers will provide you, the client, with updates throughout the process and be open to communicating with you to maintain transparency and clarity.
It is worth noting again that the best immigration advisers are those who are genuine and honest with you. This means they will not inflate nor exaggerate the likelihood of your application’s success. What this does mean is that they will inform you what your choices are and suggest what course of action you can and should take for your best interests. Qualities like honesty, transparency and professionalism are the factors you should look out for during your first consultation with an immigration adviser.
Secondly, experience. Let us remember that when it comes to legal service, it’s always quality over quantity. With this in mind, a long history of working as an immigration adviser does not immediately guarantee that their experience is best suited for your immigration needs. Instead, the more important question is how many similar cases the immigration adviser has successfully completed in their career. For this reason, adviser A with 3 years of experience who has dealt with 10 similar cases all with success compared to adviser B with 10 years of experience who has never dealt with a case like yours may be the better choice. When you make an inquiry, be sure to ask if the adviser has experience in providing the particular legal services you require.
Obviously, there are also other factors to consider. For example, immigration to New Zealand may present a language barrier for you, and you may feel most comfortable talking to someone that can speak your language and understand your cultural background. Not all law firms specializing in immigration may be able to provide advisers with diverse backgrounds, so checking this beforehand can make for an easier consultation.
There are some other indications of trustworthy firms or advisers. High volumes of marketing do not necessarily mean that a firm or an immigration adviser should be trusted. In fact, at Immigration Chambers, we see a continuous stream of clients choosing to work with us through their journeys because they have heard from their own communities about our previous success. If a close family or friend strongly recommends an adviser based on their trust and experience with them, it may very well be a testament to their professional conduct and capabilities.
Overall, finding and choosing the best immigration adviser is a balancing act. An immigration adviser with professional conduct and the right experience is more likely to provide the correct legal advice in a shorter period of time, and perhaps even more importantly, make the long and difficult process of visa application a much better experience.