In Australia there are strict rules about helping someone with their visa application or giving advice about migration. If you are a migration agent you must be registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA).
The Office of the MARA website contains forms and guidance about the requirements for becoming a registered migration agent.
See: Office of the MARA
People who practice as unregistered migration agents in Australia are breaking the law and may be subject to fines of up to 6600AUD or imprisonment for up to 10 years.
Watch the department's 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 the department.
See: Are you giving migration advice? (Youtube video)
Detailed information on what immigration assistance is and who can provide it is available.
See: Immigration Assistance
The following people are allowed to give migration advice without being registered:
- close family members (spouse, child, adopted child, parent, brother or sister)
- sponsors or nominators
- officials acting in the course of their duties
- members of a diplomatic mission, consular post or international organisation.
Education agents must not provide immigration assistance. Information on what you can do as an education agent is available.
See: Information for Education Agents in Australia
Penalties for illegal operators are serious
The department is committed to protecting visa applicants from migration-related fraud, with a 33‑month jail sentence for an Australian man who produced false documents used in permanent residency applications.
See: Investigations continue as immigration fraudster jailed
As well as fines and jail terms, illegal operators can also face civil penalties. A Western Australian woman has been ordered to pay the Commonwealth AUD50 000 for allegedly practising as an unregistered migration agent under a successful legal action.
See: Migration fraud will not be tolerated
The Sydney District Court handed down a two-year custodial sentence to an unregistered migration agent who was paid money to lodge visa applications that were never lodged.
See: Conviction a timely reminder about dodgy agents