Protect Yourself from Migration Fraud

People may give you false or misleading information in order to take advantage of your desire to visit or migrate to Australia. Becoming a victim of fraudulent activity could mean you lose your life savings or your identity or have your visa cancelled.

Warning signs to look out for:

  • you are asked to pay upfront in cash only, and no receipt is provided
  • the fee seems extremely high – a list of fees charged by most of registered migration agents is available on the Office of the MARA website.
    See: What does it cost to use an Agent
  • the 'agent' does not give you a contract or statement of services and fees
  • no office address is given and you are asked to meet at a café, pub or other public area
  • only a post office box or mobile phone number is provided
  • no Migration Agents Registration Number (MARN) is advertised – check if an agent is registered.
    See: The Register of Migration Agents – Search

Read the stories of people who became victims of fraud so the same thing does not happen to you.
See: Victim Stories

Misleading information

Be aware of the following misleading immigration information, or 'myths' used by fraudulent operators.

Myth Fact
I can guarantee that you will get a visa to Australia
  • Only authorised officers from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection can issue you with a visa.
  • No-one can guarantee you will get a visa. Avoid internet sites and advertisements by anyone who claims they can 'guarantee' a visa.
  • A visa is only issued if your circumstances meet all the visa requirements.
Pay now to register for the migration program
  • The department charges a Visa Application Charge (VAC) for most visas for Australia. A list of all applicable fees and charges is available.
  • The VAC only needs to be paid at the time you lodge your application.
  • At some locations overseas, a service charge may also apply when you lodge an application through a Service Delivery Partner.
This is a 'once in a lifetime opportunity', or your 'only' chance to travel or migrate to Australia
  • Australian visa officers do not telephone or email people offering 'deals'.
  • There may be a number of visa options for coming to Australia.
  • The department will only contact you in relation to a visa application you have already lodged.
Only I can pay the department's fees. Give me the money and I will pay the department's fees for you.
  • Take responsibility for paying your own visa application charge. You can pay the charge directly to the department. In some locations overseas, the department has arrangements for visa applications to be lodged through service delivery partners. Details on the arrangements and the payment process for each country are available.
    See: How to Pay

    Make sure you know how much the visa application charge is. A list of applicable charges is on the department's website.
    See: Fees and charges
  • Australian visa officers will never ask you to deposit money into an individual's personal bank account or transfer money through a specific private money transfer company.
  • Make sure you get a receipt for any money you pay. Check that the receipt says what the money was paid for.
I have a special relationship with the department
  • No-one has a special or privileged relationship with the department.
  • Statements such as 'skilled migration service provider', 'Australian Government registered' or 'department registered' imply a relationship with the department and should be treated with caution. You will know whether someone is a registered migration agent as they will have the words 'Migration Agent Registration Number' or 'MARN' on their advertising.
  • The department treats all applications in the same fair and reasonable way.
Don't worry—the department is still processing the visa
  • Ask for a copy of the confirmation letter issued by the department.
  • If your agent cannot provide evidence of your application, you can contact the department direct to see how your application is progressing.
    See: Visa Enquiries

  • After an application is lodged online, you will be issued a Transaction Reference Number (TRN). Use this number to go online and check the progress of your application. This is a free service.
    See: Check the Progress of an Application

  • Know what documents you need to submit with your application and make sure they are submitted.
  • If a visa officer requests further documentation, make sure it is submitted on time.
  • Stay fully informed about your application. You are responsible for your application and you should know what information it includes.
I need to keep your original documents (that is, passport, birth certificate or marriage certificate) to give to the department
  • Generally, the department requires certified copies of documents, not the originals. Registered migration agents can certify documents.
  • Service Delivery Partners will forward original documents to the department if they are lodged with them.
  • If original documents are required, a visa officer from the department will ask for them.
  • If you are lodging a student visa online, then your migration agent may need to see your original documents. If so, ask your agent to make a copy and return your original documents immediately.
  • Prevent identity fraud—do not leave your important documents with other people.


Last reviewed Wednesday 27 August 2014