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The secret blacklist of A and B immigration lawyers and agents has made national news

Natalie O'Brien has published this article today:

http://m.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/secret-blacklist-of-immigration-lawyers-20140503-37oyw.html

You may recall that Migration Alliance raised the issue of the A and B list of migration agents on March 12, 2014. In that article I had been in communication with the DIBP.  To read that article including the terrible information about Lists A and B of migration agents please click here:

http://migrationalliance.com.au/immigration-daily-news/entry/2014-03-dibp-list-a-and-list-b-of-migration-agents.html

Natalie O'Brien called Migration Alliance last week and first spoke with Christopher Levingston, asking him where she could obtain a copy of the FOI document mentioned in our article at the link above regarding List A and B.  

Christopher referred Natalie to me and I noticed that the document which had previously been accessible in March 2014, strangely no longer worked.  I chased up the document with DIBP but they were not forthcoming.  I then scoured the net by removing .pdf from the original document and found it located elsewhere in a different directory on DIBP's website.  The address had been changed slightly and the location moved.

In Natalie O'Brien's article today 4 May 2014, Ms Chan mentions that the DIBP had admitted there was a 'flaw in the system and had stopped using the list'.

Which flaw?

In which system?

When was it stopped?

I am not aware of any system and I am not aware of any flaw in that system.  Are you?

If you are a member of the MIA I invite you to please find out more about the 'flaw in the system' from Ms Chan.  If someone knows about the 'system' in this regard, then how do they know about the said 'system' and the said 'flaw', and what has been done about it?

If anyone would like to complain about list A or B please do so via the Commonwealth Ombudsman by using the online complaint form: http://www.ombudsman.gov.au/pages/making-a-complaint/

As agents would be aware this is not the first time the DIBP has behaved in a vindictive way.  There is of course the 'don't call 131881' and then there is barring agents from the AL2-AL4 student e-lodgmenent systems for integrity reasons.  I am sure each agent has their own story to complain about.  Yes, perhaps it is about time for an inquiry. 

Email me with more information:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Comments

  • Marion Le
    Marion Le Sunday, 04 May 2014

    How can we access the list?

  • Guest
    angelo pemaj (parubi) Sunday, 04 January 2015

    Hi my great Lady Marion le.happy new year .i wish to u and ur family all the best
    My best wishes Angelo Pemaj (parubi1970@libero.it

  • Guest
    Joe Thursday, 22 May 2014

    A lot of consumers are nuts
    A lot of migration agents put up with them
    Immigration puts up with it with lists

  • Guest
    Claire Consumer. Wednesday, 14 May 2014

    But the lists are good
    and keep you agents and lawyers honest, do you not think so too.

  • Guest
    MN Wednesday, 14 May 2014

    Hi Claire -

    If the rules by which people were put on the lists were public and transparent, and if agents had an opportunity to appeal a "listing", and if the lists were made public, that would be one thing. But now the lists are secret, so no benefit to the public, and there's no way to know what qualifies an agent to be put on a list. Suppose a case officer decides he doesn't "like the attitude" of an agent and that's enough reason to blacklist an agent and destroy his or her career?

    Secret blacklists have no place in an transparent, accountable society. It invites corruption, puts suspicion on an entire industry (since the list is secret), and provides no way for an agent to defend himself since there's no way to know whether they're on the list or not. Can you imagine the public backlash if the ATO kept a secret blacklist of taxpayers they didn't like, and those taxpayers stood a higher chance of being audited?

  • Guest
    Susan K Saturday, 17 May 2014

    No the lists are kept secret
    to keep bad lawyers and agents
    on their toes. Okay.

    It's great for us the public
    this way.

    Go DIBP we all say.

    Susan

  • Guest
    Robert T. Sunday, 18 May 2014

    Given the arbitrary ability of case officers to decide an applicant or his intentions are not "genuine" (a word with no definition under the law), is it fair to hold a refusal of, say, a visitor visa against the agent when the case officer decides that the socioeconomic level of the applicant's country is too far below Australia's and refuses a visitor visa for that reason and that reason only? We might as well just blacklist people from that country.

    And what if an agent lodges an application with a 2.17b letter from the client (no reasonable chance of success) so that the client can have legal access to the Ministerial Intervention process in a case where the client has a valid claim to make?

    Or what if an agent lodges an application knowing that it's likely to be refused on health grounds, but the visa is such that the regulations allow a substituted visitor visa to be given by the Minister to establish a health waiver option on the second submission of that application?

    My point is that there are can be legitimate reasons why some applications are lodged that may have a low (or no) chance of approval. That being said, negligent agents who lodge applications without the required items are currently served through MARA where a client can make a complaint and MARA will investigate. If MARA's function is to be replaced by a public name & shame list, then great, let's downsize MARA and reduce the annual registration fee (now many times what a lawyer pays to register with the Law Society) and their palatial new offices on Elizabeth St.

  • Guest
    Transparency is key Saturday, 17 May 2014

    Is this not again highlighting the practices of registered migration agents lodging applications with very low chances of success. (No Ielts, no skills assessment, sch 3 and 4020 cases)

    How about a more transparent process. If agents have a yearly refusal rate higher than the immi average they go a public only mara list. (for applications they lodge not pick up later) Then members of the public can see for themselves the quality they are paying for.

    Agents could be judged by there statistical success rate, instead of false hope and dreams.

    Will Migration Alliance advocate for this level of consumer protection. I think not, some of your members make all there money from lodging rubbish applications.

  • Guest
    Samuel Nguyen Sunday, 04 May 2014

    Nothing surprise me any more with Dept of Immigration. From human rights violations to human abusive behaviours. Now black list Migration Agents! What about the dead woods in the Dept. I hope Dept of Immigration officers/workers keep in mind that clients or applicants are paying their wages/salaries, and the services they receive are of the lowest standards.. No one answer their inquiries.. And those who pay for the services have no options about the quality they receive. Outrages.

  • Guest
    SR Sunday, 04 May 2014

    Ask Angela Chan she seems to know all about it.

    Angela Chan says there was a system which had a flaw so surely she must know? What about the lawyer? He might have it.

    I'm wondering what kind of system Angela is referring to now too! There more to this than what is being said in this article. Why did Angela know about the system and who at DIBP told her about the system flaw, and why didn't she ever tell anyone about there being a system or a flaw, or maybe she did. The comments made in the article leave more questions than answers.

    Only other alternative is to FOI the list and this request will probably be refused by DIBP for some obscure reason. Then go to the Information Commissioner.

  • Guest
    RTS Monday, 05 May 2014

    Now that this issue has gained media attention it is already starting to detrimentally affect Migration Agents.
    Immigration forums are already discussing this topic. Even though this list only contained 30 names, potential applicants are questioning whether to use an Agent, just in case they are on the list and their case is placed under higher scrutiny.
    Applicants who have already lodged are now scared that because they have used an Agent their application will be delayed.
    The Department continues to place more obstacles in the way of Registered Migration Agents, making it more and more difficult to practice profitably.
    Interesting that there is no black list of overseas non registered entities (I refuse to call them Agents).

  • Guest
    ZS Monday, 05 May 2014

    Really happy to know that I pay my annual renewal fee to get placed on a black list...

  • Guest
    MN Tuesday, 06 May 2014

    This has really opened up Pandora's Box. Because the list is not generally available, now that the story has been widely reported in the media, prospective clients are now asking if an agent "is on the DIBP black list or not" and some are reportedly reconsidering using agents altogether for fear their agent could be on the secret blacklist. If DIBP wanted to put a scare into clients about using registered migration agents, I can't imagine a better way - acknowledge there is or was a list, then refuse to publish the list. It casts a shadow on an entire industry.

    This also opens up the discussion about exactly what role the "reputation", or experience, or year of MARA licence, etc may play in any part of the "risk-tiering", assessing, or any other action conducted by DIBP related to an application. Do applications from big firms get treated any differently than applications from sole practitioners? If so, where exactly are the regulations and policy that permit this, and where is the natural justice for agents who are judged not to be worthy of "top tier" service? It all stinks of favoritism, cronyism and a playing field that is anything but level or fair. Unless DIBP is going to disregard the agent completely at every level of handling and processing of a visa application, then the rules need to be laid out publicly and clearly, for the benefit of both agents and consumers.

    And as was pointed out above - are/were the overseas unregistered "agents" exempt from the blacklist? If so, that's the ultimate double standard.

    Time for transparency, honesty and accountability. If agents are to be "judged" by DIBP, then let the rules be made public and available to all - agents and consumers.

  • Guest
    sam Issa Wednesday, 20 August 2014

    did you notice that the vast majority of agents on black list do not have Anglo names. I guess the department is trying to tell us that if your name sounds Asian or Middle eastern, then there is cause for concern. I have a Middle Eastern name and guess what I am on the list too.

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