Overview

This page will provide you with information to help you when using a migration agent.

A registered migration agent is someone registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (Office of the MARA) who can provide advice on visa requirements, help lodge a visa application and deal with the department on your behalf.

You do not need to use a migration agent to apply for any visa. However, if you choose to use a migration agent, you should use a registered migration agent.

In Australia, agents must be registered with the Office of the MARA.

Using a registered migration agent

Do you need to use a registered migration agent?

When applying for a visa you can apply yourself or your can seek assistance with your application from a migration agent.

If you choose to use a migration agent, we recommend that you use ​an agent who is registered with the Office of the MARA.

Using a registered migration agent gives you protection as they are aware of current laws and procedures to give correct advice.

Your obligations

You are responsible for the accuracy of information and supporting documentation provided as part of your application, even if you use a registered migration agent. If you make non genuine claims or provide false documents, your visa might be cancelled.

Registered migration agents in Australia

In Australia, migration agents must be registered with the Office of the MARA. If you choose to use a migration agent, you should use a registered migration agent.

Registered migration agents outside Australia

Some migration agents registered with the Office of the MARA operate outside Australia. You can search for a registered agent outside Australia by using the 'Search for an agent' tool on the Office of the MARA website.

Finding a registered migration agent

The Office of the MARA website has a list of all agents with a valid registration. Go to 'Find an Agent' and search by Personal Details (that is, Family Name, Given Name or Business Name) or Location Details (that is, Postcode, Suburb or Country).

The Office of the MARA website also provides information on:

  • how to choose a migration agent
  • what it costs to use an agent
  • what to expect from an agent
  • making a complaint about an agent
  • what the Office of the MARA can and cannot do for you
  • sanctioned agents
  • lapsed agents.

Notifying us of your registered migration agent

If you have appointed a registered migration agent to act on your behalf, your registered migration agent will need to notify us in writing or complete Form 956 (124kB PDF).

Your registered migration agent will ask you to sign and indicate at Q24 (Declaration by Client) on Form 956 that they have been appointed as your registered migration agent.

How we deal with your registered migration agent

When you appoint a registered migration agent to act on your behalf, we will do the following:

  • Discuss your application with them and seek further information from them.
  • Send any written communication about your application to them (that is, they will become your 'authorised recipient').
  • Regard any written communication sent to them as being received by you.

Withdrawing the appointment of your registered migration agent

If you withdraw or terminate the appointment of your registered migration agent, they should let us know in writing or using Form 956 (124kB PDF).

If Form 956 is used to notify us, your registered migration agent will ask you to sign and indicate at Q24 (Declaration by Client) that they are no longer acting on your behalf.

If you appoint a new registered migration agent, they should notify us using Form 956 (124kB PDF).

Getting help

Immigration assistance

Under section 276 of the Migration Act 1958, 'immigration assistance' is when a person uses knowledge of, or experience in, migration procedures to:

  • help to prepare a visa application
  • advise a visa applicant about his/her visa application
  • help to prepare a document in connection with sponsorship of an applicant or their sponsor
  • prepare for proceedings or represent applicants before a court or review authority.

Activities not regarded as ‘immigration assistance’ are:

  • clerical work to prepare or help prepare an application or other document
  • providing translation or interpretation services to help prepare an application or other document
  • advising a person that they must apply for a visa
  • passing on information produced by a third person, without giving substantial comment or explanation.

Detailed information on what immigration assistance is and who can provide it is available.

Exempt persons who can provide assistance

An exempt person is a person who can assist you without being registered.

The following exempt persons might be able to help you if they do not charge a fee:

  • your partner, parent, brother, sister, child or adopted child
  • sponsors and nominators
  • parliamentarians and their staff
  • officials whose duties include providing immigration assistance
  • members of diplomatic missions, consular posts or international organisations.

They will need to use Form 956 (124kB PDF) to notify us they are acting on your behalf.

Role of the exempt person

If you appoint an exempt person to act on your behalf, we will discuss your application with them, seek further information from them and (if also appointed as your authorised recipient) send them any written communication which would otherwise have been sent to you.

If you withdraw or terminate the appointment of your exempt person, you should advise us in writing or use Form 956.

Watch our video for more information on what you can and cannot do if you are not a registered migration agent. Find out how to report illegal operators to us.

Reporting a registered migration agent

If you are not satisfied with the service provided by your registered migration agent you can make a complaint about an agent to the Office of the MARA.

Obtaining a refund

The Office of the MARA does not have the power to order a registered migration agent to refund fees to a client.

To seek a refund from your registered agent you should raise your concerns with them or contact the consumer protection office in your state or territory.

Report an unregistered migration agent

If you want to report an unregistered migration agent please use our feedback form.

You can also provide information about fraud and other offences believed to have been committed by unregistered migration agents to the dedicated reporting service.

Your application will not be affected if you make a complaint.

The processing of your visa application will occur separately from the investigation of the complaint. Any information will be treated confidentially.

Information about Migration fraud and how to identify misleading information used by fraudulent operations, visit the Migration fraud and scams page.

Reporting agents operating outside Australia

Registered migration agents operating outside Australia

If their conduct is:

  • illegal – report them to your local law enforcement authority and your local department office
  • a breach of the Migration Agents Code of Conduct – report them to the Office of the MARA.

Unregistered agents outside Australia

If their conduct is:

  • illegal – report them to your local law enforcement authority and your local department office
  • unprofessional – report them to your local department office. Offices outside Australia contact information can be found at our offices.
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