Migration Amendment (Regulation of Migration Agents) Bill 2019

Billed passed 15 June 2020. The Bill amends the Migration Act 1958.

Australia plans to adopt some on New Zealand’s best practices when it comes to practising and providing immigration assistance in Australia.

  1. Right now, legal practitioners (lawyers) are required to hold dual registration [that being The Law Council of Australia and the Office of Migration Agents Registration Authority (“MARA”)]. The new law will eliminate the need for legal practitioners to hold dual-registration along with dual fees and meeting the professional development for both licensing regimes. What is means is, ANY legal practitioner can give immigration assistance and carry out immigration representation. The downside is, immigration law is a vast subject area and requires subject matter expertise to provide immigration assistance.
  2. Minor changes relating to supervision of newly qualified RMAs will take place.
  3. Compulsory prescribed course completion.
  4. Tiered approach to licensing as defined by MARA.

Summary of what will change in the  Migration Act 1958 :

  1. remove unrestricted legal practitioners from the regulatory scheme that governs migration agents;
  2. allow eligible restricted legal practitioners to be both Registered Migration Agents (RMAs) and restricted legal practitioners for a period of up to two years;
  3. enable the time period in which a person can be considered an applicant for repeat registration as a RMA to be specified in delegated legislation;
  4. remove the 12-month time limit within which a person must apply for registration following completion of a prescribed course;
  5. clarify that the powers under Part 3 of the Act are exercisable by the minister;
  6. enable the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA) to refuse an application to become a RMA where an applicant has failed to provide information or answer questions in relation to their application;
  7. require RMAs to notify MARA if they have paid the non-commercial application charge [A$160.00] for their current period of registration but give immigration assistance relating to non-commercial basis [A$1,760.00]; and
  8. provide that the definitions of ‘immigration assistance’ and ‘makes immigration representations’ include assisting a person in relation to a request to the minister to exercise his or her power under the Act to revoke a character-related visa refusal or cancellation decision.

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