The Liberal Morrison Government has advanced its commitment to a world-class migration advice industry through several legislative changes introduced by the Migration Amendment (Regulation of Migration Agents) Act 2020 (the Act).
The changes, which came into effect on 11 August, strengthen consumer protections and increase administrative efficiency within the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA).
The legislative changes expand the definitions of 'immigration assistance' and 'makes immigration representations' to include assisting a person to make a representation to the Minister in relation to the revocation of a visa refusal or cancellation decision on character grounds. These amendments will deter those not registered as migration agents from assisting another person in making such representations to the Minister, and penalties will apply.
Another measure will allow the OMARA to refuse an application for registration as a registered migration agent if the applicant does not provide requested information, instead of leaving the application unfinalised indefinitely.
Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs, Jason Wood, said that in addition to improving administrative efficiency, these changes will ensure that people who need immigration assistance in relation to visa refusals and cancellations can only receive advice from registered migration agents.
“It is in Australia's best interests to ensure that consumers can have confidence in the advice and services they receive, knowing that it comes from a registered migration agent," Mr Wood said.
“Visa refusals and cancellations on character grounds are complex matters. Poor advice or representation on these matters can have serious consequences for the individual concerned. These amendments will better protect vulnerable consumers by ensuring only registered migration agents can lawfully assist them," he said.
“I will continue to work with the OMARA and industry stakeholders to ensure a robust regulatory migration advice framework that prevents misconduct and unlawful advice."
The key Schedule of the Act that removes unrestricted legal practitioners from regulation by the OMARA will commence no later than 22 March 2021.
More information about Australia's efforts to safeguard the integrity of the migration advice industry is available at: www.mara.gov.au.