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Is your migration agent acting legally?

Migration agent warning

by Susan Wareham

In Australia, it is illegal for a person to practice as a migration agent, unless they are registered with the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA).

The Australian Government places so much importance on this that any person who practices as a migration agent in Australia but is not registered with MARA risks heavy penalties or imprisonment for up to ten years.

To be eligible for registration, a migration agent must undertake a Graduate Certificate in Migration Law or hold a legal practicing certificate, maintain registration with the MARA, follow its strict Code of Conduct, undertake ongoing professional development and maintain the highest standards of ethics, probity and confidentiality.

Unregistered migration advisors based outside Australia can practice as migration agents without MARA registration - but they are not bound by MARA's Code of Conduct, nor by the high standards it sets for entry into the Australian migration profession.

Education agents are not registered migration agents. They are not eligible to be registered with the MARA, do not need to meet MARA's registration requirements and are generally paid commission by colleges and universities for each student they introduce.

Find out if your migration advisor is a registered migration agent by visiting and searching the Register of Agents, or simply ask your advisor for their MARN number – a seven digit number provided by the MARA only to registered migration agents.

Susan Wareham BS(Psych), AdvDipBus(HRM), GCHSt(PolicyDev), CN404, MMIA is an Australian registered migration agent (MARN 0635687) and an accredited capital raising consultant with the Australian Small Scale Offerings Board. She is an active member of the Migration Institute of Australia and a Board Member of the 20,000 strong Australian Businesswomen's Network, where she leads the organisation's corporate governance, strategic planning, government relations, public policy and advocacy functions. For more information about this topic, or for assistance with any of your migration requirements, Susan can be contacted on +61 7 5592 3083 or email

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