When you want to travel or migrate to Australia there will be many people trying to give you advice and wanting to help you get your visa for a price. How do you figure out who to listen to and trust? Well there are several ways that can help. The first thing you want to check is if the person offering visa services is registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority.
You can check the registration details of someone at www.mara.gov.au. If a person is giving migration advice in Australia then they have to be registered or they are committing a crime under (see the Migration Act 1958 Part 3 Div.2 S.280). There is still no guarantee you won’t be given bad advice but at least there is accountability. If you have been a victim of a registered migration agent’s dealings you can make a complaint at the MARA website.
In order to be registered, a person must first be admitted to the Graduate Certificate in Australian Migration Law. To be admitted to this course, one must have a bachelor degree or proven relevant experience working with Australian migration law. Once the course is completed there is a registration process that includes police checks and obtaining insurance. An agent also signs documents binding them to a code of ethics. If an agent acts outside of these ethics there are repercussions that can include cancellation of registration and hefty fines. However, a person giving advice outside of Australia does not have to be registered. There is where the danger lies. It means absolutely anyone can be offering a visa service and not be bound my any code of conduct.
Joe the pizza man or Jane the cleaning lady could provide you with immigration assistance and you have no way to check their credentials. This means there are no repercussions for providing bad advice or taking your money and providing no or minimal service. A person acting as an ‘agent’ outside Australia can charge any price they want and there are countless stories of being ripped off. Having worked as an Immigration Officer at the Australian Embassy in Cambodia, I have firsthand knowledge of seeing how these ‘agents’ operate.
It was common that they would apply for visa subclasses clients did not qualify for costing the client hundreds and even thousands of dollars. They would then convince the client that there was something missing in the application that caused them to be refused and would convince them to apply again. The client would then lose even more money. Now you know the difference between engaging a registered migration agent and an unregistered agent I highly recommend you choose a registered agent. They have the qualifications, the insurance, good character and accountability to ensure that you receive the visa and migration service you deserve.