John Young recommends that clients only use Australian Registered Agents in managing migration applications. There is a real risk in using Agents overseas who are not Australian Registered Migration Agents.
A migration agent is anyone who uses knowledge of migration procedures to offer advice or assistance to a person wishing to obtain a visa to enter or remain in Australia.
The definition of ‘immigration assistance’ also includes giving assistance to people who are nominating or sponsoring prospective visa applicants.
An ‘agent’ includes lawyers and people who work for voluntary organisations and provide their advice free of charge. However, migration agents generally charge for their services.
Migration agents operating in Australia are required by law to be registered with the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA). Some migration agents operating outside Australia are also registered with the MARA.
All registered migration agents must:
How to choose a migration agent
Registration applies to an individual and not to an organisation. The first thing you need to be sure of is that you are dealing with is a registered migration agent, whether in or out of Australia. You can do this by either asking to see their certificate of registration (which has their photograph on it) if you are with the agent at the time or by checking the Register of Agents on this website. Also, for your protection this website contains information about agents whose registration is suspended or cancelled by the MARA (sanctioned agents) and information about agents who are no longer registered (lapsed agents).
If you discover that a person in Australia has given you immigration assistance and they are unregistered, you should immediately contact the Department of Immigration. The Department of Immigration will assess the information given and investigate any allegations of unregistered practice. The best way to report information about unregistered practice is to contact the nearest Department of Immigration office. Click here for a link to their contact details or call them in Australia on 131 881.
Before engaging your migration agent ask for a contract or statement of services and an outline of fees applicable to your circumstances. You should not sign the contract or statement of services until you fully understand the terms of the work to be done. Ask questions to clarify anything you do not understand.
Questions you might ask when choosing your migration agent include:
Requirement to be Registered
The law requires that migration agents operating in Australia be registered with the Migration Agents Registration Authority (“the Authority”).
The Authority regulates the migration advice profession and undertakes a range of functions as defined in s316 of the Migration Act 1958. These functions include:
People who practice in Australia as unregistered migration agents may be subject to penalties, ranging from fines of up to $5,500 to imprisonment for up to 10 years.