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Informal lies and the Office of the MARA

The Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA) describes itself as a discrete, and some would debate 'dysfunctional', office inside the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, that rationalises its self-existence, by launching ‘informal’ lines of inquiry and investigations against Registered Migration Agents.

Fact:  There is no prescribed format that compels a Registered Migration Agent to engage ‘informally’, with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA), in response to a ‘informal’ request for information.

To achieve its investigative purpose the OMARA requires a flow of information to establish the framework of its investigation and with the power of compulsion, attempts to lure agents into a false sense of belief, that it wants to ‘informally’ make enquiries of the agent and quickly resolve the issue at hand.

It is no surprise that many Registered Migration Agents feel worried and overwhelmed when contacted by the OMARA.  It is common knowledge among the Migration Advice Profession that the OMARA uses unlawful intimidation and rogue tactics, to create a fake environment of fear, to coerce agents into its demands.

An informal approach by the OMARA only serves one purpose; To gather information from an agent and not to be the agent’s friend. The absence of a prescribed format that establishes an ‘informal’ relationship between a Registered Migration Agent and the OMARA, means that the agent is not required to provide the OMARA with any information, in response to an informal request to do so.

Instead you can create a position which allows you to be open with the OMARA and receptive to resolving the matter that has been drawn to your attention.

Each 'informal' request for information by the OMARA will be somewhat different and require a slightly different approach. There are two basic steps experienced Registered Migration Agents have found helpful when dealing with the OMARA.

STEP ONE:

Read, reflect and re-read 'informal request'  - OMARA is not your friend

Before you schedule a response, reflect on the purpose and intent of the words used by the OMARA.  For example, a special correspondence from the OMARA may first entice you to believe that over the horizon is a romantic relationship of trust, cooperation and friendship but when read a second time, you quickly discover the opposite. 

Most words written by the OMARA mean only one thing; that the recipient, ‘you’ is now the subject of an investigation or potential proceedings by the OMARA. There is no window dressing.

Simply put, on the premise that there is no prescribed format compelling you to ‘informally’ engage with the OMARA, it follows that the appropriate method of engagement is in the form of a written response, to a notice under section 308 of the Migration Act.

According to experienced Registered Migration Agents, one of the most common OMARA threats, is the warning that it will issue a notice under section 308.  What the OMARA does not tell you, in relation to a section 308 Notice, is that an agent lawfully does not have to satisfy any ‘informal’ request by the OMARA. In fact most experienced agents will advise that the best method to deal with informal requests is to ignore them or respond by asking the OMARA to put on a S308 letter.  What the OMARA does not want agents to know is that the OMARA actually does not want to issue you with a section 308 Notice because it puts the spotlight back on OMARA and makes the investigation process transparent.    It also forces OMARA to use sound legal basis and constructive requests based on law, rather than rogue intel gathering tactics, aka 'informal requests'.

Transparency is your shield of protection when dealing with the OMARA. The onus of disclosure is shifted upon the OMARA to substantiate and disclose to you, by way of legal notice, the circumstance of the allegation. This affords a level of procedural fairness and access to information that you do not enjoy in the case of responding to an 'informal' request for information by the OMARA.  If you provide information to the OMARA as part of an 'informal' process then you might well be sacrificing yourself to them unwittingly.

STEP TWO

The written response:

Written responses like the following might be helpful to assert your professional standing, as an initial reply, to a informal request of information by the OMARA.

“Dear X,

RE: Informal Request for Information by the OMARA

I acknowledge receipt of your email, dated xx/xx/2014.  OMARA’s decision to approach me informally, raises concerns about how the complaint against me is being handled by the OMARA.

Accordingly, I request the OMARA to specify, by reply email, the circumstances behind its decision to approach me informally and clearly state its reasons for doing so.  I look forward to receiving your reply.

Yours Sincerely”

Remember: There is no such thing as an ‘informal’ relationship with the OMARA!

Next weeks Challenge #2 of the ‘Starters Guide to Challenging Anything and Everything OMARA Puts to You”; will explore some simple steps on how to probe OMARA for clarification.

Please click here for REGULATING THE REGULATOR

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Comments

  • Guest
    sam issa Wednesday, 22 October 2014

    Stay tuned to my matter. I will soon expose mara incompetence and fraudulent conduct at AAT

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