Using Migration Agents
Migration agents provide a very useful service, and can make a big difference when you are applying to come to Australia. Of course, you can to apply for your own Australian visa, but if you do not feel confident in lodging an application, or if your case is detailed, you may wish to get the help of a registered migration agent.
However, as with any service, be very careful when you choose the agent! Do your research and make sure this person is the professional he or she needs to be! Whether you are using an agent in your own country, or in Australia, there are some things to know. To learn about education agents click here.
Registered Migration Agents
A registered migration agent understands Australia’s migration procedures well enough to give advice or assistance to someone wishing to obtain a visa to enter or stay in Australia, and/or to people who are nominating or sponsoring prospective visa applicants.
While many agents around the world have a great deal of knowledge about Australian visas and schools, we recommend you use an agent registered with the Office of the MARA. Through its website, you can find a registered agent in your city/country, or in Australia. You can do a search on the homepage (look for the gray box is on the right). Find an agent now.
Office of the MARA
The Office of the MARA is a government organisation connected to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, and manages the registration of migration agents. The Office of the MARA also investigates agents when complaints are lodged, and has an online directory of agents you should not use.
Knowing that your agent has been registered by the Office of the MARA gives you peace of mind that this person has up-to-date knowledge about the visa process. Migration rules can change quickly, and agents must be aware of the changes, and how these affect your application. In addition, and very unfortunately, there have been many scams involving migration agents globally. The Office of the MARA has agents registered all over the world, so there is no reason for your agent not to be registered; it is his or her choice. See if your agent is registered here.
In contrast, an Australian-based migration agent MUST be registered through the Office of the MARA. If an agent cannot show you a Unique Migration Agents Registration Number (MARN), we recommend you DO NOT do business with this person.
Whether it the person is a lawyer, migration agent, or education agent, he or she needs to be registered with the Office of the MARA in order to give migration advice. Check the person is registered by seraching the Register of Migration Agents on the Office of the MARA website.
However, there are some people who are allowed to offer advice without being registered. These people include:
- a close family member of the visa applicant
- a sponsor or nominator of the visa applicant
- a member of Parliament or their staff
- an official whose duties include providing migration assistance
- a member of a diplomatic mission, consular post, or international organisation
Please note: An education agent does NOT have to be registered with the Office of MARA, but he or she should still prove that they have excellent knowledge of Australian schools!
Duties of a Registered Migration Agent
An agent must do the following:
- give you a copy of the Consumer Guide once they have agreed to work on your behalf. This guide can also be found on this page.
- give you a Statement Of Services to outline what services you will be charged for. You must receive this BEFORE you pay them any money.
- return any documents (which belong to you) within 7 days from when you ask for their return
- keep records of all communication about your visa application that have taken place with you and/or the Department of Immigration and Border Protection
Things you should do:
- keep your original documents like a passport and birth certificate. Almost everything the Department of Immigration and Border Protection requires can be certified copies
- confirm your discussions and instructions to your agent in writing as a record. Remember, you are responsible for any information you give the government, even if someone else fills in the forms.
- make sure you understand what services are included. The Office of the MARA has a list of the average agent fees you should expect. An agent can charge more or less, but these should be considered to know you are not being taken advantage of. Remember, you can apply for a visa on your own...you do not have to use an agent.
- if you are using an education agent, they do not have to be a registered migration agent. We can help you find a school.
Having trouble with your migration agent?
If you feel that an agent is being corrupt or incompetent, lodge a complaint with the Office of the Mara.
A complaint will NOT affect your visa application.
It is also possible to stop using your agent once your application is lodged. However, you need to notify the Department of immigration and Border Protection if this happens.