A migration agent is a person registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA), who offers to assist people with applying for visas and citizenship in Australia. This article examines some important considerations in using the services of a migration agent and what you should expect to receive for their assistance.
Migration agents are individuals who have registered with MARA and fulfil a number of requirements for registration. These professional and registration requirements include that the individual:
- is over 18 and is an Australian citizen or permanent resident, or a New Zealand citizen with a special category visa;
- holds an Australian legal practising certificate or has completed a prescribed tertiary course and passed an examination;
- passes a police check and pays the registration fee;
- holds appropriate professional indemnity insurance;
- possess demonstrated proficiency in the English language;
- is a fit and proper person to be registered.
Despite the citizenship requirements, a migration agent may live and practice in a country other than Australia. However, an ongoing requirement (apart from valid registration) is that the agent must have a good working knowledge of Australia's immigration laws and display (and abide by) MARA's migration agent Code of Conduct.
Fees charged by migration agents will vary, although MARA has compiled a useful indicative table that shows the average fees charged by a majority of registered migration agents.
Migration Agent Services
Migration agents can assist in an application to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship by:
- providing personal advice on the requirements of an application;
- preparing the application and helping you to compile the required documents; and
- sending the application and corresponding with the Department on an applicant’s behalf.
What Migration Agents Cannot Do
Migration agents cannot (and should not claim to be able to):
- utilise personal contacts to improve an applicant’s chances of a successful application;
- accept bribes or money to guarantee success;
- act in a position where they have a conflict of interest; or
- make a false or “vexatious” application (that is, an application that has no chance of success).
Further information regarding migration agents (and industry regulation) is available from MARA's website at http://www.mara.gov.au or by telephoning MARA on 1300 226 272 (Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 5:00pm AEST).