Is your agent registered?

People using migration agents are once again being reminded to make sure they use only those who are registered after the latest fraudster was jailed for seven years.

Only registered migration agents can legally give immigration assistance in Australia. To do this, they must be listed on the Register of Migration Agents, held by the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA).

“Agents” who are unregistered, almost always lack the necessary expertise to perform the tasks, and invariably cause serious problems for their clients. Often, applications are never even lodged and the whole process was one big scam. Often the unregistered agent will prepare documentation but ask the applicant to lodge under his/her own name. This protects the fraudster from prosecution, but leaves the applicant exposed to the errors almost always evident in the applications.

Registered agents can assist with visa applications or other visa matters by preparing, or helping to prepare, a visa application or other document and by advising about a visa application or visa matter.They can also assist by preparing for proceedings before a court or review authority in relation to a visa application or visa matter and by representing in proceedings before a court or review authority in relation to a visa application or visa matter.

The latest fraudster, Paul Harrison, has been sentenced by a court in Perth after being convicted over a string of criminal and migration fraud offences which has cost his victims over $730 000.He was jailed for four years in relation to 26 criminal fraud and stealing charges and three years for 19 charges under the Migration Act related to unregistered migration advice, providing false or forged documents and misleading information to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP).

Australian Border Force (ABF) Acting Assistant Commissioner, David Nockels, welcomed the result as a significant outcome for both law enforcement agencies. ‘This significant sentence by the court sends a clear warning to people that migration and criminal fraud is a very serious offence which carries severe penalties,’ he said.

‘In order to avoid being a victim of migration fraud, people seeking migration advice should ensure they use only registered migration agents,’ he added.

This sentencing follows the recent successful prosecution of another Western Australian man, Charanvir Charanvir, who was jailed for four years for similar offences and was ordered to repay costs of $39,000 to his victims.

MARA said that people should be careful of unlawful operators pretending to be registered migration agents. ‘Always check our website to make sure you are using a registered migration agent,’ said a MARA spokesman.

‘It is important to note the Office of the MARA has jurisdiction to consider complaints about registered migration agents only. If you encounter an unlawful operator providing immigration assistance, report them to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection,’ he added.

You can check if your agent is registered by searching their details on the MARA website.The Department of Immigration has recently upgraded its advice to all visa applicants about unregistered practitioners.

PAX Migration Australia only allows registered migration agents to work cases, and we invest heavily in professional learning, keeping up to date with the latest developments so clients can rest assured they are getting the highest quality advice every time.