Registered Migration Agents

23/01/2016

Australian visa applicants are being reminded by the Department of Immigration that if they choose to use a migration agent, it is important to check they are registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA)

In Australia ‘It’s against the law for anyone who is not registered to advise about eligibility for a visa or provide assistance beyond clerical help with a visa or citizenship application,’ said a Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) spokesman. Migration agents who practice in the UK and who are registered with MARA are also subject to the same code of conduct, professional development and regulations applied to agents based in Australia.

Registered migration agents are skilled professionals with up-to-date knowledge of Australian migration law, and are bound by the professional standards set out in the migration agents’ Code of Conduct.

‘This provides you with a level of protection. On the other hand, an unregistered agent may not have current knowledge about the law and ignore any form of consumer protection,’ the spokesman added.

Migrant agents should also be realistic about the chances of getting a visa. ‘They shouldn’t give you false hope and can never guarantee you a visa. You should discuss with your agent what your chances of success are and your agent should provide you with an agreement of services and fees before they start work or take any money from you,’ the spokesman explained.

The agreement should give a breakdown of the costs involved in preparing and submitting a visa application, including the agent’s professional fees and any visa application charges.

One of the benefits of using a registered migration agent is that they must charge you reasonable fees for their services. The average range of fees charged by registered migration agents is published by MARA on its website.

Agent must also keep applicants informed about the progress of their visa application and must let them know in writing about the outcome as soon as possible. At the end of the process, or after completing a large block of work, the agent must give you an invoice for the work they have completed.

‘It’s important to know that agent fees can vary and may depend on the type of visa you need, the amount of time it will take to prepare your application, or if you need extra help or have complex circumstances. For example, your agent might charge more if you have dependents on your application such as children.  Some agents who are very experienced and highly qualified may charge a higher fee,’ the DIBP spokesman explained.

‘If your agent’s fees seem too high, discuss this with them before signing a contract. You should consider talking to a few agents about their services and fees before you choose one and sign a written contract with them,’ he added.

If there are problems applicants are advised to speak to their agent first but if that doesn’t work MARA may be able to help. ‘But if you get migration advice from someone who is not a registered migration agent, the Authority cannot assist you if there’s a problem,’ the spokesman concluded.

 

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