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Ban unregistered immigration agents - my submission to the Minister

In my capacity as the Founder of Migration Alliance, I have made the following submission in writing to the Minister, Hon Jason Wood MP, who is responsible for the Office of the MARA:
I suggest the banning of unregistered immigration agents.

By law, any person that gives immigration advice about Australia should be Registered with the Office of the MARA.

This includes people giving Australian immigration advice from India, China, Europe, or anywhere else in the world.

Only Agents Registered with the Office of the MARA should be able to give immigration advice, because only Registered Migration Agents have demonstrated sound knowledge in Australian Immigration Law and Practice. 

There is no such thing as an unregistered medical practitioner, so much the same as they are dealing with people's lives, so are Registered Migration Agents. 

Unregistered immigration practice ruins lives.

Unregistered education agents who provide immigration advice should NOT be exempt from registration.

Australia should follow the lead set by Canada and New Zealand and cease to accept applications from persons who are not Registered Migration Agents.

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  • Guest
    john Adeyemi Tuesday, 17 September 2019

    Thanks for the submission Liana. I hope it this will be implemented. They should indeed learn the from Canada and NZ on this. I think this should include Education agents lodging visas for applicants.

  • Guest
    toni dignon Tuesday, 17 September 2019

    I fully agree Liana, they should be registered, if they are providing advice about migration to Australia they should have to go through the same process and be regulated.

  • Guest
    Ramandeep Kaur Hasija MARN 1805587 Tuesday, 17 September 2019

    I agree with you but government is not listening and they do not want to make any changes to stop these unregistered practices.

  • Guest
    CKP Tuesday, 17 September 2019

    Fully agreed with you Liana. I recently encountered an agent in another country offering business migration services to WA, and operating from a small township in the country's regional area. Upon checking, the agent merely act as a student services representative for many colleges placement. Unlicensed to provide migration services and ruined client's lives. In this instance, my client (previously subscribed) to their service, only to be refused their visa sc 188 (of which they actually do qualify for a direct sc 132).

  • Guest
    sryan Tuesday, 17 September 2019

    Sounds like a great idea, How do you regulate it ?

    How would people that have the ability to do it on there own fare., a very basic Visa that is.

    But i agree 100% anyone that wants to give advice, they would have to be registered and pass the Capstone exam ? it would be just like any other profession.

  • Guest
    Westly Russell Tuesday, 17 September 2019

    THEY are unlikely to ban unregistered practitioners, because they would have to find another way of funding universities.

  • Guest
    Aimo J Aho Tuesday, 17 September 2019

    The following additional points may be of interest.
    DHA has also said in the past that the sanctioning of overseas agents requires the extraterritorial application of the MARA Regulations and Australia may not be able to enforce for this reason. However, DHA already applies certain aspects of Refugee regulations to overseas issued. Immigration Regs are already applied on an extraterritorial basis. By giving overseas agents a Migration Registration number has also exacerbated to problem.

  • Guest
    Robert Wednesday, 18 September 2019

    "DHA has also said in the past that the sanctioning of overseas agents requires the extraterritorial application of the MARA Regulations and Australia may not be able to enforce for this reason."

    Stuff and nonsense. DHA has stated this for two very important reasons:

      it is true, someone not in jurisdiction cannot be subject to that jurisdiction.
      it is completely irrelevant. Nothing to do with it, nada, zilch, "who-dat".

    The "DHA" need only stop:
    (1) handing out "customer numbers" to unregistered hacks based overseas.
    (2) accepting applications from unregistered persons.

    ... and all problems are solved.

    It is not about "sanctioning people" - it's about immigration advice and applications.

    By the way - they do not give out registration numbers - they are "customer numbers".
    There is no problem with RMA's being based offshore.

  • Guest
    Electric Boogaloo Tuesday, 17 September 2019

    As discussed Liana, great idea. It's been done successfully in NZ and Canada - this was also mentioned in depth the enquiry headed up by this Jason Wood. In NZ the Department actually investigate the person providing the assistance if they think someone is saying they are 'family' but charging anyway. Once we get this in place we then need to deal with the ones who are registered... giving showking advise for some 80,000 for a 'sponsorship'....LOL!.

  • Guest
    Maria Wednesday, 18 September 2019

    Agree 100%. Thanks Liana.

  • Guest
    Ratna Wednesday, 18 September 2019

    I agree 100% with your thoughts and hope to see this change soon.
    In Canada or UK, no one can practice without registering with their Registration Body. So why Australian Migration Advisers?

  • Guest
    Don Limen Thursday, 19 September 2019

    As long as a way is found to allow offshore agents to register and to undertake what is necessary to become a registered agent should they wish to do so,then no problem and I am all for it.However based on today’s rules,only Australian citizens or PR holders may register to become a MARA agent which cannot continue if they want to follow same lead as NZ which allows offshore agents who are not NZ citizens or PR holders to register by completing certain procedures.This applies to everyone who want to register regardless of where you are from.In my opinion offshore agents should be given the chance to register and undertake any requirements just like everyone else.This is currently not the case.While there may be some bad and dishonest offshore agents as this also may be the case for some MARA agents ,there are also some very sound and knowledgeable offshore agents who should be given the same opportunity to register like anyone else if they meet the requirements and required standards.

  • Guest
    don Lerner Thursday, 19 September 2019

    I agree and am all for registered agents BUT offshore agents must be given the opportunity to register if they meet the necessary requirements and standards.As things are based today,offshore agents who are not Australian citizens or PR holders are unable to register to become a MARA agent even if they wanted too.This needs to be addressed to allow sound offshore agents to register if they want too.In NZ anyone may register to become an agent if they meet required standards and I am of the opinion,Australia should follow same lead and allow anyone who meets requirements and necessary standards to register to become an agent regardless of where they are from and they should not need Australian citizenship or PR to be allowed to register.If this was imposed,it would create a much better and fairer system.There are very sound and knowledgeable offshore agents who cannot register even if they wanted to because they are not Australian.This needs to be changed.

  • Guest
    Michal Sestak Thursday, 19 September 2019

    I also agree, that immigration advice provided by unregistered, unqualified and uninformed person ruins people’s lives and steps need to be taken to protect those people seeking genuine and accurate immi advice.
    Education agents is a group of people who assist and help to lodge some 300,000 student visas annually (407,754 s/c 500 lodged last fin year and 75% students have an agent, source DET and DHA). Many registered migration agents are not familiar with student visa applications and specific requirements for specific nationalities and regions. My experience with RMA is that many do not even speak the language of the international students, do not understand the culture and ability to relate to the applicants circumstances. DHA has its own procedures for off shore applications from various countries and unless RMA operates in that particular market, s/he has no access to those information (i.e. which banks in a specific country are acceptable by DHA and which are not). So in fairness education agents provide valuable services to the Australian Education industry way beyond the student visa assistance (counselling, on-going support, academic assistance, health related matters, etc). Would RMAs provide all that support, often for 2-3 years, for free??
    The issue is that the government turned a blind eye to the issue for 30 years and it is very difficult, given the size of the industry today, to make a drastic changes over night. The whole industry would be on a brink of collapse if only RMA would be allowed to lodge student visas from i.e. 1.1.2020. RMA’s have not really focused on student visas because it was largely administered by education agents and students are not prepared to pay for RMAs to lodge the s/c 500. Last FY 91% of all s/c 500 lodged were granted and students know that. Majority of those applications were somewhat administered by education agents. Are they providing illegal migration advice? Yes, no doubt.
    I am speaking to many RMAs and they are openly admitting that they have no understanding of the student visa processes, education system, impacts of certain programs on the outcome of the s/c 500, risk levels of schools, etc.
    Do I however believe in the NZ and Canadian model? Definitely. In my practise I see first-hand the damage education agents cause and how students are wasting 10s of thousands of dollars for an unrealistic outcome sold to them by the education agents and often also by the education institutions. I also believe in change and I am advocating for it however the education industry needs to be given reasonable time to adapt.
    Michal Sestak, RMA 0208424

  • Guest
    John Young Friday, 20 September 2019

    Good luck Liana.
    We tried a similar approach over 10 years ago when Director of the MARA and the Minister and DIBP did nothing.

  • Guest
    Luis Friday, 20 September 2019

    Education Agents and unregistered Migration agents should be banned completely. It is about time that Education Agents used the back door to use the system illegally and avoid paying the already high fees to renew MARA license.

  • Guest
    Stuart Sunday, 22 September 2019

    Well, this one touched a raw nerve.
    I'm all for banning unregistered cowboys and what not, and this is coming from an RMA (16 years) and registered Education Agent (8 years). I also hold a degree in Australian law but chose not to become a solicitor (and jump through even more hoops).
    Now for the bad news.
    Leaving aside the emotional connotation, the word "banning" is not appropriate here. You see, the Australian government couldn't "ban" anything outside Australian jurisdiction, so that's the end of that.
    What it could do, is not accept applications that are not from the applicant him/herself, or an RMA.
    But, and I'm sorry to burst your collective bubble, that is a no goer, either.
    The reason in simple: MONEY. (capitals and full stop intended).

    Do you people actually think that the government of the day will asphyxiate the $32b student fees milch cow (sorry Daisy)? And face the biff of the education industry? And what about the massive VAC's (that I've seen explode exponentially over the last 18 years or so)?

    If you think so then I'm sorry for you.

  • Guest
    David Stephens Sunday, 22 September 2019

    Banning applications from Education agents is a step too far for the practical reasons stated by Stuart and others above.

    However, banning all other visa applications from non-applicants or non-RMAs is perfectly sound. This is what Canada does. It also solves the jurisdiction problem because it removes unaccountable practitioners from our system.

    This is the only reasonable response. You cannot waive the issue away by simply stating it is about money.

    The government are there to make such protection laws: if it were just about money, they would not have RMAs anyway (just image how many more failed applications there would be and the increase in govt VACs and subsequent appeals if RMA did not exist). They would not be tackling smoking either as it reduces taxes (smokers are a net positive govt revenue even accounting for health costs). They would not have consumer laws (ACL and ACCC). They would not promote electric vehicles (reduced fuel excise) etc.

    Unregistered practice is a real solvable issue and should not to be side-tracked by fake conspiracy theories.

    There is a win-win-win solution to banning unregistered migration advice practice: the vulnerable applicant is protected from unqualified operators, the RMAs do not have to compete with unregulated practice, and the government benefit by reducing fraudulent applications thereby increasing the integrity of the migration process.

  • Guest
    Westly Russell Sunday, 22 September 2019

    What percentage of prospective students are led to believe that they are on track for PR and what percentage achieve it? If the arrangement among education agents, course providers and the immigration department is not a conspiracy, it will do until we find something that is!

  • Guest
    Friedmann Helen Monday, 23 September 2019

    Hi, Years ago I was on a committee constituted by immigration department and strongly argued the case about unregistered practice. It fell on deaf years then and will be the same now. Too much like hard work for the department. Good submission Liana but you forgot to mention advice given by various assessing bodies, which also leads to many people suffering the consequences.
    Helen Friedmann

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