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  • Writer's pictureDessie

Australian immigration lawyers no longer registered migration agents

Updated: Apr 10, 2021

The Australian government has made a decision to distinguish the immigration professionals into two groups Immigration lawyers and registered migration agents. Immigration lawyers are Officers of the Court and comply with the ethical and professional standards of a legal practitioner. Today all solicitors and barristers holding unrestricted practising certificate will no longer be subject to dual regulation, namely, they can not be registered with the Migration Agents Registration Authority. They will remain governed by the legal professional bodies in each State and Territory as Officers of the Court.

Assent Migration Lawyers offers the services of immigration experts who are legally qualified Australian lawyers, some are practising solicitors and others are practising migration agents.

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

Immigration lawyers are Officers of the Court and comply with the ethical and professional standards of a legal practitioner. Immigration lawyers are trained in not just immigration law, they are trained to analyse, interpret and apply Australian legislation and case law.

Immigration lawyers must obtain a university degree at a minimum undergraduate level which requires three to five years of legal training. After which they must complete a year of further studies in Legal Practice to be admitted as solicitors with the Supreme Court of the State or Territory of their residence. Once admitted practice, lawyers are subject to a period of at least two years of supervised legal work under the watchful eye of an experienced lawyer before they can hold an unrestricted practising certificate. Immigration lawyers have inherent legal protection for clients – legal professional privilege, which keeps the communications confidential under most circumstances even against a subpoena from a court of law.

The professional indemnity insurance held by immigration lawyers is far more comprehensive than that held by registered migration agents.

The professional fees charged by registered migration agents and by immigration lawyers are comparable. It is a marketing myth that immigration lawyers are more expensive.

Anyone who has tried to read an Act of Parliament, the Explanatory Memorandum accompanying the introduction of the legislation and the Regulations clarifying it, knows it is a difficult and arduous task. Immigration law is one of the most challenging areas of law in Australia which is subject to constant dynamic and at times sudden changes. Australian immigration and citizenship law involves not only legislation, practice and procedures with significant levels of complexities that sit behind the decision-making process for even the simplest visa applications. Immigration lawyers are trained to deal with these complexities. immigration lawyers are also trained to prepare the representation of their clients' cases to the level of scrutiny required by the Australian courts.

Registered migration agents are registered with the Migration Agents Registration Authority. Their work is covered by the MARA Code of Conduct. Under Australian law and can only provide immigration assistance. They are not qualified to provide advice in any other area of law such as criminal law, family law, employment law. If a matter escalates to court a migration agent can’t help and is in fact prohibited from doing so. A registered migration agent needs to complete six to twelve months of postgraduate qualifications to obtain a certificate that enables them to apply to be registered as a registered migration agent. Once registered a migration agent is not required to work under any supervision before they provide immigration advice and services to clients. Their client communication is covered by the principles of confidentiality but not by legal privilege.

We look forward to hearing from you to assist with your visa, immigration or citizenship case.

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