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Don't hire a Migration Agent in Sydney until you've read this article!

By Charbel Nehme | Migration Agent in Sydney | 2 Feb 2019

If you're reading this article, the chances are that you, or someone you care about, need help from a Registered Migration Agent.

This article has been prepared with the consumer in mind. I have been a Registered Migration Agent for more than ten years, and I know too well the consequences that poor visa decisions can have to clients, their businesses and their families.

It was only last week that I consulted with a foreign national who was desperate for help. So desperate, the potential client wanted me to help prepare false employment references. The individual was provided with a challenging alternative to the unethical scenario I was confronted with. However, the individual turned down my recommendation in favor of a poor decision which I choose not to be a part of.

It is a matter of time before I hear from this person again, as tends to happen when irresponsible decisions made by potential clients don't achieve the required outcome. More often than not, these individuals return with tales of hardships, money lost and false hope that was never met. Some individuals have found themselves on the wrong side of the law, in jail and even banned from Australia!

How many Migration Agents are there in Sydney? 

Most people can't answer this question. Perhaps this is not a question you would consider asking if you were in search for a Migration Agent? In more than ten years, I don't believe any client has asked me this question. Admittedly, I did not consider the relevance of this question until now.

Recently, I was looking for ways to improve the delivery of my service to the public and came across a startling fact. There are 1,372 Migration Agents in Sydney. There is an army of 1,372 Registered Migration Agents in this beautiful city who love their job and welcome the opportunity to help you succeed.

To find out how many Migration Agents there are in Sydney, I used the 'Find an Agent' service on the website for the Office of the Migration Agents Authority.

Search of the MARA Register for Migration Agents in Sydney

Migration Agents are highly qualified skilled professionals. I know quite a few Migration Agents of various levels of experience, and with different interests, capabilities and areas of expertise who would love to help you succeed.

As a potential client, you will need to decide between 1,372 Registered Migration Agents and your chosen representative. There is entirely no room for error when the Migration Agents conduct has a direct impact on your life and future.

Firstly, your Registered Migration Agent should have a desire to help you succeed.

Desire is essential, because, without it, you become another ‘sale’ or even worse, a ‘lead’ to your RMA (Registered Migration Agent).

I enjoy helping clients with challenging circumstances. I have a particular interest in difficult 'Partner' visa applications. Although I do enjoy other areas of Migration Law, I enjoy helping clients under challenging circumstances to achieve favorable outcomes. That is, the type of case that most other Registered Migration Agents felt could not succeed.

Some of my recent successes with the Partner visa include - 

  •  APPROVED: Partner visa on De Facto Grounds for a couple who have NEVER lived together.
  •  APPROVED: Partner visa on De Facto grounds for a same-sex couple (Yes - I've done this TWICE) who have never lived together. 
  •  APPROVED: Waiver of the 8503 No Further Stay visa condition for a South African client, opening the pathway to a valid onshore Partner visa application.
  •  APPROVED: Onshore Partner visa approved for a client who did not hold a substantive visa for more than 28 days before their application was made, which meant they were required to satisfy additional complex requirements. 
  •  APPROVED: Onshore Partner visa approved for a client who became unlawful after he neglected to renew his student visa because he was preoccupied with his University studies. 

Secondly, your RMA (Registered Migration Agent) should have enough experience to handle your case from start to finish.

I've discovered the experience level of a Migration Agent was an issue that many past clients did not think was important. If you are applying for a Partner visa, the experience level of your Registered Migration Agent is critical for the following reasons -

  • The current processing time for the Subclass 820 visa is 21 - 25 months. 
  • The processing time for the second stage (Permanent) visa is 19 - 39 months. 
  • This means your entire visa journey can take more than 5+ years to complete. That is, presuming your Subclass 820 or 801 visa isn't refused!

(Note - the timeframes quoted above are based on processing time data published by the Department of Home Affairs on 25 January 2019. You can verify this information at any time for yourself by visiting https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/visa-processing-times/global-visa-processing-times)

It is a reasonable expectation that your Migration Agent has helped other clients with similar visa requirements previously. You don't want the future of your family and relationship to be a 'test case' for a Junior Migration Agent! If you are applying for a Partner visa, I honestly feel that your Registered Migration Agent should have at least five years of experience.

There is a well-known method within the Immigration profession that allows anybody (including yourself) to identify the experience level of a Registered Migration Agent in an instant. 

Registered Migration Agents are identified by their MARN, which stands for 'Migration Agents Registration Number.' Registered Migration Agents are required by law to provide their MARA registration details on all advertising material.

You should expect to see on every migration agents website a 7 digit registration number.

The MARN which has belonged to me for the last 10+ years is 0851787. You can verify my registration details on the website for the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority.

Migration Agent

Why is the Migration Agents 'MARN' relevant?

As mentioned above, the relevance is due to a well-known secret of immigration profession. Well, it's not exactly a secret, but it's a known fact by everyone who has anything to do with the migration profession, ranging from Migration Agents to staff employed by the Department of Immigration.

What's the 'secret'? Well, the first two digits of a Migration Agent's MARN (Migration Agents Registration Number) represent the year the agent was first registered. My MARN starts with '08,' which means I was first registered in 2008. More specifically, I was first registered in September 2008!

Fast forward to today's date, and I have more than ten years of proven experience as a Registered Migration Agent.

  • I've won cases in the Tribunal that were previously refused because of the client's DIY effort.
  • I've dealt with onshore cases. I've lodged offshore applications to the UK, Middle East, Europe, Asia, and the Americas.
  • I have clients who have been married, divorced and have sought my help TWICE within this period. 
  • I've had clients removed from immigration detention. 
  • I've had clients return to Australia after being forcibly deported. 
  • I've provided assistance to unauthorized boat arrivals in detention facilities around Australia. 
  • I've acted for a diverse range of clients ranging from individuals to small and large businesses in Australia and overseas. I've lodged visa applications for celebrities, sporting professionals and listed companies in Australia and abroad.

Putting all this information together 

I've taken the MARA website search results one step further. My curiosity got the better of me, and I wanted to find out how many Registered Migration Agents have a MARN that start with 18, 17, etc. I wanted to know how many Registered Migration Agents had less than ten years of experience. I did not want an estimate; I wanted an exact figure.

It did not take very long to find an answer to my question. The MARA Register of Migration Agents allows you to search for an agent using only their 'MARN.'

I've found that if you insert 18 in the field titled 'Migration Agents Registration Number (MARN),' the search results provide you with the details for all Migration Agents who were first registered in 2018.

I've replicated this process for MARN's beginning with 08 - 17. My findings are summarised in the table below - 

Year of RegistrationTotal Number of Registered Migration Agents
Total Number of Registered Migration Agents with Less Than 10 Years Experience836

The date I've revealed confirms that 62.5 percent of Migration Agents in Sydney have less than 5 years experience. 

You don't have to hire me, or any other agent with at least ten years of relevant experience. The purpose of this article is to inform you to help with your decision making. Remember, I have recommended that you hire an Agent with at least five years of experience, so I may not be the right fit for you.

The data I have shared suggests that only 37.5 percent of Migration Agents in Sydney have successfully taken other clients over the 'long haul' in the past.

Nationwide, the results were consistent with the above and confirmed that 65.19 percent of Migration Agents had less than ten years experience and 48 percent were at the level of 5 years or less.

What was going on? People change careers all the time, but this was starting to look more and more like a nationwide epidemic targetting Migration Agents! 

Unless you're a Senior Migration Agent, the information I've shared most likely doesn't tell you anything. 

Visualization of the data confirmed what I'd felt all along. I am pleased to confirm there wasn't an epidemic, and Migration Agents weren't mysteriously kidnapped or unfairly targetted (what a relief!).

Migration Agents in Sydney

We can see there was a decline in the number of Migration Agents have the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. There was a slow increase in the number of Migration Agents until 2017, where we have started to see another decline. The year of 2017 corresponds with the date the Subclass 457 visa was abolished. The implementation of the new Subclass 482 (Temporary Skills Shortage) visa represented a significant change to the Australian immigration system which had widespread implications not only to Migration Agents but to Australian employers, their sponsored employees and those wishing to apply for a visa.

My role can be quite stressful, but I do love my work as a Registered Migration Agent, and I sincerely feel that I am only ⅓ of the way through my journey in this rewarding profession. I was providing Australian Immigration services to the public before Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and Tony Abott were Prime Ministers. I’ve worked through the cabinet appointments (IE - former Immigration Minister's) of Chris Bowen, Michaela Cash, and Peter Dutton, and hope to be here after they've all retired.

© Copyright 2019 CNA Immigration Pty Ltd 

Migration Agent Registration Number 0851787


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