Why choose a registered Migration Agent?
Only registered migration agents can legally give immigration assistance in Australia. To do this, they must be listed on the Register of Migration Agents, held by the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority. Immigration assistance (under section 276 of the Migration Act 1958) is when a person uses or claims to use knowledge of, or experience in migration procedure to assist with visa applications or other visa matters by:
- preparing, or helping to prepare, a visa application or other document
- advising about a visa application or visa matter
- preparing for proceedings before a court or review authority in relation to a visa application or visa matter
- representing in proceedings before a court or review authority in relation to a visa application or visa matter.
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Registered migration agents are allowed to provide immigration advice and assistance, including help lodging visa applications. Agents must be qualified and demonstrate to the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (the Authority) that they:
- have sufficient knowledge of migration law and procedures
- are a person of integrity
- are a fit and proper person to provide immigration assistance.
Agents can advise if your visa application is likely to succeed, but they do not make visa decisions and cannot influence outcomes. Only the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) makes decisions about visa applications. It is against the law for someone in Australia who is not registered with the Authority to provide you with immigration assistance.
A registered migration agent is qualified to help you with your visa application and can deal with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) and other organisations for you. You do not have to use an agent to lodge your visa application, but they can be very helpful, especially if your case is complex. The help an agent can give you and the help an agent cannot give you is in this table.Can
|can explain which visa options are available to you, and recommend a suitable option||cannot guarantee your application will be successful|
|can prepare documents for your visa application||cannot help you get a visa if you do not meet the visa requirements|
|can lodge a well-prepared application with all required documents, which can make it easier and faster to get a decision from DIBP||cannot guarantee faster processing of your application|
|can contact DIBP or other organisations to discuss or ask questions about your application|
Advice on your options
Registered migration agents have detailed knowledge of migration law and procedure. They can give you an honest assessment of your situation and tell you about your visa options. An agent can only do this if you give them all the information they need. Once you have chosen the best visa option, your agent will confirm this in writing.
Contract and fees
Once the agent has agreed to help you, they will give you a written agreement with details of their services (contract) and how much they will charge (fees). Your contract will list the type of visa you are applying for (example, Student subclass 572 visa). Your contract will also list the fees you will be charged for each service or each hour worked. Your agent has to include other items you might have to pay for, such as:
- an application fee to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP)
- an application fee to the Migration Review Tribunal
- costs for medical assessments
- costs for skills assessments.
Your contract must also tell you when you need to pay and how. You need to read your contract carefully before you agree to it and sign it. When you have agreed that the agent will help you, you become their ‘client’.
Code of Conduct
All agents must follow the Code of Conduct for agents. This means the agent must meet the obligations set out in the Code of Conduct. Your agent will provide you with a copy of the Code if you ask for it.Consumer Guide. When you sign a contract, your agent must give you a copy of the Consumer Guide. The Consumer Guide includes a summary of the Code, what you can expect from your agent, what the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority does, and how you can complain to us if you need to.
Your relationship with your agent
Your agent is working for you, but they need your help to do so. You need to cooperate with your agent and respond to any reasonable requests they make. You need to know that your agent must give DIBP, the Migration Review Tribunal or the Refugee Review Tribunal all the information they need to decide your visa application.
After your application is lodged, your agent might need to provide more information to these organisations by a specific date. If this is not provided in time, your application may be refused. So you need to respond quickly when your agent asks you for information or documents. Your agent should provide you with details of how you can contact them during normal business hours. They do not have to be available outside of normal business hours.
Your agent must let you know in writing about the progress of your application. Some applications can take longer to process so there will be times when your agent has nothing to tell you. Talk to your agent about how much time it might take and what the steps will be, so you know what to expect. Your agent must write to you about the outcome of your application as soon as possible.
Conflict of interest
A conflict of interest occurs when actions or decisions are influenced (or thought to be influenced) by personal factors. Your agent should not represent you if they have a conflict of interest. Your agent must put your legitimate interests above their own and avoid situations where there is self-interest.
In both of these examples of a conflict of interest, the agent is putting their own interest (making money) above the best interest of their client:
- Your agent may have an agreement with an education facility where they receive money for each person they refer to that education facility after helping them to obtain a visa. Your agent advises you this is the best education facility for you to attend once you have your visa.
- Your agent or a member of their family has money invested in a business. Your agent advises you to invest in that business in order to satisfy certain visa requirements.
If your agent discovers they have a conflict of interest at any time while representing you, they must tell you straight away they can no longer work for you.
Termination of contract
Your contract can be stopped (terminated) by you or your agent at any time or if you both agree to do so (mutual agreement). If your agent terminates your contract, they must first give you reasonable written notice. When your contract is terminated, your agent should provide you with an invoice (a written statement of services) showing the services they performed for you and any money you need to pay for those services.
You are entitled to get back money you paid in advance for fees for services your agent did not provide. Your agent must return to you, within seven days, any documents that belong to you.