Under Australian law, a migration agent operating in Australia giving immigration advice and assistance must be registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (Office of the MARA). The Office of the MARA regulates the migration advice industry in Australia and is a discrete office attached to the Department of Home Affairs (which incorporates the former Department of Immigration and Border Protection).
A Registered Migration Agent is a skilled professional and he or she must meet strict competency standards in order to be registered and, maintain annual registration in the profession. They are also bound by a Code of Conduct for Registered Migration Agents that sets out the ethical and professional standards to which they must adhere.
The Code of Conduct can be viewed on the Office of the MARA’s website here.
The Office of the MARA also produces a Consumer Guide that explains what you can expect from using a Registered Migration Agent. The Consumer Guide is published in a number of different community languages. Registered Migration Agents must give a copy of the Consumer Guide to clients after agreeing to do work for them, but before commencing that work.
The Consumer Guide can be viewed on the Office of the MARA’s website here.
Migration agents who practice outside of Australia are not required to be registered with the Office of the MARA.
It can be risky to engage the services of an unregistered agent because they may not have current knowledge of Australian migration law and procedure. They may also try to take advantage of you or fail to conduct themselves in an ethical manner. Should you find yourself in this situation, you would not be afforded the protection of the Code of Conduct and, in fact have little or no consumer protection at all.
You can apply directly to the Department of Home Affairs DIBP for a visa or seek review with the relevant tribunal without the help of a professional. However, using a Registered Migration Agent to help guide you through the complexities of the process can be invaluable.
A Registered Migration Agent will have a 5 or 7 digit Migration Agents Registration Number (MARN). You can search the online Register of Registered Migration Agents on the Office of the MARA’s website here.
The Principal of VisAssist®, Tina Masumi Edwards, is a Registered Migration Agent (MARN 0955139). You can read about the Principal here.
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