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General Procedures

Immigration Assistance

Immigration Assistance

A registered migration agent (RMA) is a qualified professional who is registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA). It is not required to use an agent, but if an individual decides to seek assistance, they should engage a registered migration agent. RMA can recommend a suitable visa option and help lodge a decision-ready application with all required documents. However, no agent can influence the decision and guarantee a visa or speed up the processing of an application.
Australia Visa Immigration Assistance

Using Registered Agent

Australia’s migration laws are complex and are subject to frequent changes. If an applicant is not sure about the correct procedures or required documentation or if a case is not trivial, they may appoint an agent to assist with the process. An RMA can provide an up-to-date information, advise on current requirements and can deal with the department and other agencies on clients’ behalf.

Services that are regarded as immigration assistance
  • Preparation of a visa application
  • Advice about a visa application
  • Preparation of sponsorship documents
  • Preparation for proceedings before a court or merits review tribunal
  • Preparation of a request for Ministerial intervention
In Australia, all agents must be registered with the OMARA and only RMAs are legally able to provide immigration assistance for a fee. RMAs also operate overseas and are subject to the same strict regulations applied in Australia. The OMARA website provides information on how to choose an agent, how much it may cost and offers a searchable Register of Migration Agents with valid registration.

Registration provides protection to consumers in case of disputes and ensures that agents meet regulatory standards and have adequate qualifications, knowledge and insurance. RMA must also meet the continuing professional development (CPD) requirement and complete CPD activities each year. In addition, they must maintain an up-to-date professional library with direct access to:

  • Australian Government Acts including Migration Act 1958
  • Australian Government Regulations including Migration Regulations 1994
  • Other legislation relating to migration procedures including Legislative instruments
  • Portfolio policies and procedures including Procedures Advice Manual (PAM) used by the department
Perhaps, the only disadvantage of “Using Registered Agent” approach is the cost of RMA services as they may be fairly expensive. However, in most cases and especially in complex ones, the value of the assistance received outweighs the amount of fees paid.

Doing It Yourself

The department accepts all applications regardless of who lodges them. Anyone is able to apply for a visa themselves and there is no requirement to use an agent.

There is plenty of information on the departmental website including:
  • Application forms
  • Documents checklists
  • Visa Wizards
  • Information Booklets
  • Contact Details
Certain exempt individuals are also able to provide immigration assistance:
  • Close family members
  • Sponsors and nominators
  • Parliamentarians and their staff
  • Officials whose duties include provision of immigration assistance
  • Members of diplomatic missions or international organisations

Although, the information on the website is quite comprehensive and well structured, it is only intended as a basic guide to migration laws and it does not address the complexities of individual circumstances. According to the website’s conditions of use, the department accepts no responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of any of the information and suggests to seek independent advice.

The main advantage of “Doing It Yourself” approach is cost savings. However, people need to consider the complicacy of their case and make a decision based on their personal circumstances.

Using Other Operators

People need to be careful of using unlawful operators pretending to be RMAs as they have limited knowledge of immigration law and procedures and may take money without providing any service. Unregistered agents need to be reported to the Department of Home Affairs through the Border Watch online report.

There are many risks of using a person who is not registered with the OMARA, including inaccurate or misleading advice, misplaced or missing documents, financial or time losses and provision of incorrect information to the department. These risks may ultimately lead to visa refusals or cancellations and may prevent people from applying for other visas.

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