INZ has recently announced its intention to buddy up with the immigration lawyers and advisors (immigration advocates) to implement so called “Trusted partnership programme”. The idea, INZ says, is to share the risks and benefits of sorting out the less than gold-plated visa applications with the industry stakeholders. The buddied up advocates will be given ‘the trusted partner’ armband.
The average success rate of 90% or higher in each of the last five years of immigration practice is the price tag that comes with the armband. Once become one, the trusted partners will enjoy a “business class” service with their cases being processed on a fast track. No doubt this will become a huge marketing advantage at the expense of the “economy” class advocates and their “economy” class clients.
The New Zealand Law Society was quick to disapprove the initiative taken by INZ. It is concerned the proposal will immediately put the advocates in a conflict of interest situation. I strongly agree. In fact, it is mind boggling as I personally see the idea being akin to the Nazi insignia.
Being an ex-immigration officer and now practicing as an immigration lawyer, it is not all unusual to see clients facing utterly unfair and illegitimate PPIs. My duty is to confront INZ and jealously promote my clients’ legitimate interest to be treated fairly and by the rules.
What would trusted partners do with those cases if they are at the blink of being dropped out of the 90% threshold? It is no brainer to imagine them encouraging their clients to withdraw the cases.
I join the Law Society whole heartedly in opposing the unruly idea. In our industry, trust is the essence, not something to be incentivised for.