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It is unlawful for anyone to give immigration assistance in Australia if they are not a registered migration agent, Australian legal practitioner or exempt person.
Any person who gives unlawful immigration assistance in Australia should be reported using the Border Watch Online Report on the Department of Home Affairs (the Department) website.
Use the form to report suspicious or illegal immigration, visa, customs and trade activity. The Department takes all reports of suspicious activity seriously and you can choose to remain anonymous. Please be aware that intentionally providing false or misleading information to Border Watch is a serious offence.
It is important to know that any person who helps with your immigration matter cannot guarantee you a visa.
A person gives immigration assistance if he or she uses, or purports to use, his or her knowledge or experience in migration procedure to assist a person with matters related under the Migration Act 1958.
The most common times assistance is provided is during visa application processes, visa cancellation processes or sponsorship processes (including monitoring or sanctions).
Note: Immigration assistance does not include simply filling in an application form, translating or interpreting or passing on information about an application without comment or explanation.
A registered migration agent is a person who is registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA) to provide immigration assistance.
If operating in Australia, migration agents must be registered with the OMARA.
Information on registered migration agents, including how to find one, is available on the OMARA website www.mara.gov.au
Registered migration agents must meet professional standards, follow a Code of Conduct and maintain up-todate knowledge of migration law and procedure.
All registered migration agents have a unique Migration Agents Registration Number (MARN).
You can check if a person is registered on the OMARA website www.mara.gov.au
The Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA) is part of the Department and is the regulatory body for registered migration agents in Australia.
The OMARA cannot help you with a visa or sponsorship application or order a registered migration agent to refund fees to you.
The Code of Conduct for registered migration agents requires registered migration agents to:
● be honest about your chances of getting a visa
● provide correct advice and keep you informed of the progress of your application and any changes that may affect it
● act within the law, your interests and protect your privacy
● tell you if they have an interest that conflicts with your interests and take appropriate action
● give you a written statement before starting work on the services to be provided, estimated fees and other costs
● keep funds in a separate bank account if you pay in advance
● give you an invoice listing the actual services completed and the amount payable
● keep proper records on the processing of your application.
The full Code of Conduct is available on the OMARA website.
Certain people, such as Australian legal practitioners and exempt persons, do not have to be registered as a migration agent to provide immigration assistance in Australia.
A legal practitioner is a lawyer who holds an Australian legal practising certificate (whether restricted or unrestricted) granted under a law of an Australian state or territory.
Legal practitioners can provide immigration assistance in connection with legal practice.
Information on legal practitioners, including how to find one, is available on the Law Council of Australia website.
Information on legal practitioners can also be sought from the relevant state or territory legal professional bodies.
Australian legal practitioners must act in accordance with the professional conduct rules of their relevant legal authority.
If you would like to lodge a complaint about a legal practitioner read the ‘Consumer guide – legal practitioners’, available on the Department’s website.
The following people do not have to be a registered migration agent or legal practitioner in order to provide immigration assistance:
An exempt person must not charge a fee for their assistance. In Australia, if they do charge a fee they are committing an offence and penalties of up to 10 years jail can apply.
To appoint a registered migration agent/legal practitioner/ exempt person you should complete the options for receiving written communications.
Your registered migration agent/legal practitioner/exempt person should complete form 956 Appointment of a registered migration agent, legal practitioner or exempt person.
Form 956 is available from the Department’s website
You can be appointed as an authorised recipient to receive documents on behalf of another person relating to their visa matter, but you must not provide immigration assistance unless you are also a registered migration agent, legal practitioner or exempt person.
When an authorised recipient is appointed, the Department will:
• send all written communication about the visa matter to the authorised recipient
• deem written communication to be received by the person for whom the authorised recipient has been appointed.
You should be aware that the documents sent to your authorised recipient might include sensitive information about matters such as your health and character.
In many cases the person who has been appointed to provide immigration assistance has also been appointed as the client’s authorised recipient.
Parts B and C of the Form 956 can be used to advise the Department that the client has withdrawn the appointment of an authorised recipient.
Alternatively the client can notify the Department in writing of the withdrawal of an authorised recipient, or complete Form 956A Appointment or withdrawal of an authorised recipient.
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