Nine Deadly Errors in Selecting a Migration Agent


No doubt choosing a good migration agent is critical in the success of your visa application. Especially in many cases you only have one chance to make it right!  The author has been practising in the immigration advice profession for 13 years and for the very first time he has revealed, from an insider’s angle, the nine deadly errors people often make in selecting a Migration Agent.

  1. Selecting an unlicensed agent


To provide migration consultation and agency service in Australia, migration agents must be registered with the Office of the Migrations Agents Registration Authority (known as MARA). According to section 281 of the Migration Act 1985 (Cth), any migration service given without registration is illegal and the person in offence is liable of a maximum of 10 years imprisonment. Registered Migration Agents are bound by a Code of Conduct and are required to have an in-depth knowledge of Australian migration law and procedure and meet high professional and ethical standards. Registered Migration Agents are also required to purchase the Professional Indemnity Insurance to cover all the consumer protection. Engaging with the illegal agents who do not have the registration with MARA would not have such protections. If you would like to know whether your agent is legitimate, you could go to this government website –

  1. Selecting an inexperienced agent


In Australia, each Registered Migration Agent has a seven digit migration agent registration number. The first two digits of this registration number represent the year of registration. For example, my registration number is: 0103806. First two digits are 01, which means I was initially registered in 2001, and I have 13 years experience. If someone became registered in 2010 and claimed that he/she has 10 years of migration experience, he/she was obviously lying.

  1. Selecting a migration agent who is not well-informed

Australian immigration law is very complicated and it changes all the time. In order to provide the best service to clients, a migration agent must have the most updated knowledge and information to keep up with the changes of the Australian Immigration Law. One of the important resources to learn the updated Australian immigration law is through the Migration Institute of Australia (known as MIA). If your agent is a MIA member, he/she will be able to get all the latest updates and changes, which would undoubtedly be of great assistance to your case.  If you would like to check whether your agent is one of MIA’s members, you could go to MIA’s website – Basically, MIA has three levels of membership, the ordinary members (Member), intermediate members (Associate Fellow) and senior members (Fellow). There are currently only approximately 40 Fellow Members out of a total of around 5000 migration agents in Australia. I am honoured to be awarded to Fellow status for my excellent service to my clients. These senior Fellow Members are the highest ranking in this industry and considered to be the Elites and Deans of migration profession in Australia.  
I am the current Victoria and Tasmania state president of MIA and a board director of Migration Institute of Australia.

  1.  Unaware of the migration agent's English proficiency level

Migration agents must have in-depth understanding of Australian immigration law. In handling Australian Immigration cases, a migration agent must be able to communicate competently with the immigration officials and he/she must be able to write a persuasive submission based on all the legal reasoning. This requires a High proficiency of English skills. When I first came to Australia twenty two years ago, I scored of 7 in my IELTS test. Ten years down the track, I scored 7.5. I graduated with three Diplomas (Management, Marketing and Information Technology) and an accounting degree awarded with Distinction. I also successfully completed the renowned Australian Immigration Law course at University of New South Wales and worked in the world’s largest immigration law firm.

  1. Unaware of a migration agent's work history in the company

    Migration cases are likely to continue for a long time. What you don’t want to see the most is that your case being transferred to three different migration consultants within six months. Each time a new consultant is assigned, he/she may not know well about the previous background. So the probability of success of your case is likely to be comprised. When you select a migration agent, be sure to ask about your advisor as to how long he/she has been working in the company, and how long he/she had stayed in his/her previous company. If he/she is on for a company every year or two, you'd better forget about him/her, because he/she is most likely to transfer your case to another person in the middle of the case. I am VisaMaster’s chief consultant as well as executive director, so if you assign your case to me, I will hold responsible to the end. This is my promise to you.

6. Unaware of the background and history of a firm
The Migration Agents Registration Authority regularly publishes on their website about agents who received sanctions. Before selecting a migration agent, it is necessary for you to check whether the agent has any bad record on the Migration Agents Registration Authority website in Australia. If any bad record was found, look into the nature of the record. How the agent treated his clients and why. This may suggest that it is likely for him to treat you the same if you were to select the agent. Some comments on the forums are also useful reference to evaluate your migration agent.   
7. Letting an education agent to handle your migration case

Education agents and education consultants cannot help your migration case or to apply for a visa application including student visas, unless they are also Registered Migration Agent. As mentioned in point 1 of this article, only registered migration agents can legally provide migration services in Australia. Education agents and education consultants can only help you with school information and consultations about studies, but they cannot help you to lodge your student visa application.
8. Trusting some of the unrealistic promises

There are risks involved in any types of immigration visa applications. Migration agents can only help you to prepare your cases, but the decision to grant a visa is made by the Department of Immigration officer. Clause 2.14A  of  Australian Registered Migration Agents Code of conduct expressly prohibits a migration agent guaranteeing application approval to his/her clients. You should be careful if you received some unrealistic promises from a migration agent, it is most likely that he/she is lying to you. As a Registered Migration Agent for 13 years, I have never used the word 'guaranteed' success or similar to my clients.  We never use cheap and unrealistic verbal promises to attract our clients to believe in us.  Our confidence comes from our many years of experiences. We really know what we are doing.

9.  Failure to check out the reputation of an agency
How trustworthy a migration agent is and how good their services are can only be judged by clients.  Before you select a migration agent, make sure you check how his/her clients evaluated him/her. Ask the company’s previous clients and have a look at the company’s clients’ feedback can always be helpful. Our company is built solely on clients’ referral. You may rarely see our advertisement, but 95% of our clients are by referral. Over the years, we have accumulated a large number of successful cases and there are plenty of testimonials on display in our company for your reference. We are very proud of our clients’ faith and confidence in us.

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