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Why use a Migration Agent

Australia’s immigration rules are complex and subject to frequent change. If you are a potential migrant or visa applicant you can obtain an assessment of your chances of success by consulting with a qualified Migration Agent. If you decide to lodge a visa application, a Registered Migration Agent can make the whole process easier and more effective.

When you engage with an experienced Migration Agent you maximise your chance of a successful outcome. You can also save a great deal of time and anxiety, as the Agent will take responsibility for ensuring your application is prepared correctly and the right documents are provided to support your case.

After visa lodgement a Migration Agent will liaise with the immigration authorities to minimise delays and ensure compliance with any requests. The Agent will also keep you informed about the status of your application and about any relevant changes to policy or law post-lodgement that could affect the outcome of your application.

How to choose a Migration Agent

Given the advantages of engaging a Migration Agent what should you look for when selecting and appointing an Agent:

1. Registration
If you choose to use a Migration Agent to help you with a visa application it is important to check they are registered with the office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority. It is 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. Agents are skill professionals with up-to-date knowledge of Australian immigration 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.
All Agents operating in Australia must be registered with the office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA). To gain registration a Migration Agent must be able to demonstrate a sound knowledge of immigration policy and procedure. An Agent must practise in accordance with the Code of Conduct incorporated in Australian Immigration Law.
Australian Registered Agents are accountable for their actions to the MARA. If you are dissatisfied with the service you receive you can lodge a complaint with the MARA. Where an Agent is found to be dishonest or incompetent their registration can be cancelled and they will be prevented from practicing as a Migration Agent in Australia.
This protection does not apply to non-registered Agents. Such Agents cannot operate legally in Australia but are able to work in other countries where Australian law does not apply.
Your most reliable protection is to ensure that any Agent you engage is an Australian Registered Migration Agent. Ask the Agent for his/her Registered Migration Agent number and if in doubt search the register via the MARA website (https://www.mara.gov.au/).
2. Migration Institute of Australia (MIA)
A valuable second evaluation tool is to ascertain whether or not the Migration Agent is a member of the MIA (http://mia.org.au/).
The MIA is the professional association which represents Australian migration service providers worldwide and is recognised as such by the Australian Department of Home Affairs. The MIA has its own Code of Conduct which all members must abide.
The MIA investigates any complaints against its members. If you are unhappy with the service you receive you can complain to the MIA as well as the MARA. Membership of the MIA by your Agent gives you additional protection.
You can also ask if your Migration Agent is a member of any other professional body to appraise their credibility and skills.
3. Relevant Experience
There are a number of other factors you should consider when evaluating any service provider.
Shop around. Ask questions about their experience in dealing with your type of case, their fees and payment arrangements, whether they practise as a Migration Agent on a full-time basis or whether they are also involved in other activities.
Do not be afraid to ask about their experience and success rate.
4. Agreement for Services and Fees
Before work commences seek a written contract or engagement letter from your Migration Agent. This should confirm such matters as the type and scope of services to be provided, application timeframes, the Agent's estimate of fees and application costs, and payment schedule.
It is important to note Agent fees can vary and may depend on the type and level of service required, the amount of time needed to prepare an application, the circumstances of a case and time constraints. For example, costs may increase for applications including dependent children, unlawful non-citizens, or people who have breached their visa conditions.
Your Agent must be realistic with you about your chances of gaining a visa - they should not give you false hope and can never guarantee the Department of Home Affairs will grant you a visa.