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What is the difference between a registered migration agent and an immigration lawyer?

I am interested in the Australian Business and Investor visa, but I am confused on who to seek out to help with my application. What are migration agents and how do they differ from lawyers?

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    Bob Yang

    Australia Registered Migration Agent
    Answered on

    There is no doubt that migration is a profoundly life-changing experience. The decision to migrate can be costly and complex. This all means it is important that assistance is sought from a highly qualified, regulated professional. Under Australian Law, with the exception of a sponsor, a close family member, a member of parliament or a government official providing assistance as part of their job, only an RMA may provide what is called immigration assistance (as defined in s276 of the Migration Act 1958). A registered migration agent is someone registered with the Authority and who can advise on visa requirements, help lodge a visa application and deal with the department on your behalf. They might be able to help you if your case is complex or you require immigration assistance. Registered migration agents are required to: 1) have a sound knowledge of migration law and procedure; 2) act professionally and in a timely manner; 3) abide by the Code of Conduct for registered migration agents; 4) have appropriate insurance; 5) be a fit and proper person to give immigration assistance and be a person of integrity (this will involve criminal history checks). [see Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection (http://www.border.gov.au/)] A RMA cannot provide “immigration legal assistance” within the meaning of s277 of the Migration Act 1958. A lawyer who is also an RMA can prepare your documents, act on your behalf in court or before the tribunal and provide you with advice in relation to matters immigration. If the RMA lawyer is also part of a larger firm, they can plug the client into complimentary legal services. Both RMAs and RMA lawyers can provide immigration assistance to clients. While all RMAs are required to comply with the OMARA Code of Conduct, lawyers who are RMAs are also required to comply with the ethical and professional standards expected of a legal practitioner and an Officer of the Court. So, what is the difference between an RMA and an RMA lawyer if they can both provide immigration assistance? A lawyer’s legal training is not only just about immigration law but also tax law, family law, employment law, property law, commercial law and criminal law.etc. Lawyers are professional in laws and skilled in application that they are usually dealing with the other law cases while processing clients’ immigration application. In this way, it is hard for a lawyer to devote himself to an immigration case. In contrast, an RMA with rich experience in immigration as well as a sound knowledge of migration law and procedure focuses more on a certain immigration case, preparing and making immigration program based on a client’s circumstances.

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    Karola Steffi

    Australia Registered Migration Agent
    Answered on

    Not a difference between them in regards to providing assistance with Australian Visa applicants; both Migration Agents and Lawyers have Bachelor Degrees whereby Migration Agents have also a Postgraduate Degree (Diploma) in Migration Law and Practice. Lawyers by the merit of having a Law Degree do not need to study any Migration Law and Practice and can however be registered as giving Immigration Assistance. Please note when choosing between a Migration Agent and ImmigrationLawyer it is important to understand whether either entity has experience in Business / Investor Visa and how long they have been giving Migration/Visa assistance. You can tell by their MARN number, i..e for myself 1170483 this means I started practicing in 2011, or if the MARN starts with 09, 14, the person has been practising since 2009, 2014 etc. I trust information provided assists and Best of luck with your search and if I can assist further please contact me further.

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    Doris Dengel

    Australia Registered Migration Agent
    Answered on

    Even though migration agents have to undertake legal studies, they only do so for migration law. Therefore, their studies are less extensive than those of a lawyer. Unless you have a particularly complex case, migration agents are fully qualified to assist with your Australian visa inquiry.

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    Ali Shahami

    Australia Registered Migration Agent
    Answered on

    To be eligible to give advice on Australian Migration matters, you need to be registered with Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA). Both migration agents and migration lawyers are accredited to provide you on Australian visas if they are registered by MARA.

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    Lisa De Leon

    Australia Registered Migration Agent
    Answered on

    A registered migration agent is someone who has passed the requirements to become registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (a division of the Department of Immigration). Currently, this is the Graduate Certificate in Australian Immigration Law and Practice which is offered at only 4 universities around Australia. Each year, in order to become re-registered, a registered migration must accumulate 10 Continuing Professional Development points through attendance at workshops and seminars or completion of private study modules. Previously, there have been lawyers who were also registered migration agents. They have studied to obtain a Bachelor of Law degree and then completed the Graduate Certificate and were registered with the Law Council as well as MARA. However, there will soon be a change to legislation to remove the requirement for fully qualified lawyers to also be registered as RMA''s in order to give migration advice. This will mean that lawyers will be able to give migration advice in the course of their legal practice, even though they have not completed a specialized study in migration law. The law course covers most areas of law but does not provide a detailed study of the Migration Act or Migration Regulations. You can tell the experience/quality of a registered migration agent by their MARN (migration agent registration number) - the first two digits identify the year they first became registered. After the new legislation is passed a lawyer will no longer have a MARN number and it will not be possible to tell how experienced they are in the field of migration law. I hope this has helped to clarify the distinction between the two titles.

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    Mark Welch

    Australia Registered Migration Agent
    Answered on

    In Australia, individuals who provide immigration advice must be registered to provide that advice as a Migration Agent with the Migration Agents Registration Authority. There are two pathways to becoming a Migration Agent. An Australian lawyer can seek registration as a Migration Agent or an individual can obtain immigration specific qualifications, generally in the form of a Post Graduate qualification in immigration, which enables him or her to become registered as a Migration Agent. In addition to certain qualifications, Migration Agents must hold professional indemnity insurance and meet Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirements. In choosing who to represent you, it is essential that the individual is a registered Migration Agent and ideally has experience in the visa categories you are eligible for. An agent with a wide range of experience will be in a better position to assess you against all available visa categories.

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