Since 1 June 2018, the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (the Authority) has sanctioned 20 migration agents. Of these, 9 registrations were cancelled, 7 were suspended and 4 were barred.
The most recent prominent sanctioned decision held on 20 December 2018 involved a cancellation of a migration agent’s registration for a period of 5 years on the main following grounds:
The agent failed to deliver services to clients, for which the agent was paid;
The agent failed to keep clients fully informed of the progress of their matters;
The agent failed to respond maintain proper client records; and
The agent transferred one client’s security bond from the client’s account to an offshore bank for unexplained reasons, without the client’s knowledge or permission.
Another recent cancellation decision held on 15 November 2018 for another migration agent’s registration involved the following findings:
The Agent lodged incomplete nomination or visa applications, and failed to respond to requests for further information, resulting in the refusal of those applications;
The Agent significantly delayed or failed to lodge applications she had been engaged for, and misled clients that these applications had been lodged;
The Agent advised of an inappropriate pathway that resulted in a client being excluded from Australia; and
The Agent failed to advise of a significant change affecting visa eligibility.
For both cancellation decisions, the Authority held that the migrant agents demonstrated a disregard for the migration regulatory scheme, and their client’s interests, posed a serious and ongoing risk to consumers, and was held not a person of integrity, or otherwise not a fit and proper person to give immigration assistance.
Of the same kind, a less harsh disciplinary decision was held on 20 December 2018 which involved a suspension of the registration of a migration agent for a period of 12 months, on the following grounds:
The Agent was found to have provided false and misleading information to the Department in relation to a client’s nomination application;
The Agent had failed to keep his client fully informed of the progress of their applications, to notify them of the outcomes of applications, and to have lodged subsequent applications on their behalf, without their knowledge or permission; and
The Agent did not respond in a timely manner to requests for documents from his client upon termination, and did not issue a Statement of Services (also known as “Cost Agreement”) to his client.
Accordingly, the Authority also held that the Agent was not a person of integrity, or otherwise not a fit and proper person to give immigration assistance.
It is paramount for all migration agents to familiarise themselves with the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA) Code of Conduct on a consistent basis. Migration agents and lawyers are expected to hold the highest set of ethical standards, and are therefore obliged to act in the best interests of their clients.
If you are a Registered Migration Agent, please feel free to contact our lawyers for professional guidance or legal representation on OMARA complaints. We have two (2) Accredited Specialists in Immigration Law. Please contact us on 02 7200 2700 to book in a consultation.