By | Migration Agent Sydney | 1 May 2015
As a registered migration agent in Sydney I frequently meet people who have been harmed, either financially or from an Australian immigration law viewpoint, by unregistered and fake migration agents.
It is illegal for anyone to provide immigration assistance unless they are a registered migration agent. The reason it is illegal is to protect the consumer from being given incorrect advice or losing their money to unscrupulous operators posting as migration advice professionals.
I have coined a term for these individuals and like to refer to them as scamtrepeneurs.
Scamtrepeneurs providing immigration assistance can face penalties of up to 10 years imprisonment. Immigration law is federal law which means it applies to people in every State or Territory across the nation. The Australian government is not fond of scamtrepeneurs who try to undermine the integrity of the Australian visa program which requires that only people who are of good character may provide immigration services.
Who can blame them? Immigration is major contributor to the Australian economy and has helped us stay relatively unscathed both during and after the GFC. You proabably were not aware that International Education is Australia's second biggest export to Mining? It is not just international education that needs to be protected - Australian businesses sponsoring foreign workers, families and partners of foreign nationals, tourists, business people and skilled workers are just as valuable to the economy as they all play their unique role in keeping Australia moving.
The above may sound cliched and you may have read similar articles on other migration agents blogs in the past or perhaps even before you landed on this page. This is not another general information post about unregistered migration agents being bad people, but rather an account of my own personal experience with unregistered migration agents. More specifically, one scamterpeneur in particular.
You only really begin to understand why I find this to be such an important issue when you have first hand experience of witnessing vulnerable people being exploited for profit. This is essentially what happens when you deal with an unregistered migration agent.
Approximately two years ago I was approached by a desperate lady in need of urgent Australian immigration assistance. Her Carer visa application had failed, her appeal to the Migration Review Tribunal was not a success either and there was a pending request for Ministerial Intervention she wanted to have lodged. Her last hope to stay in Australia would have been for the Minister to personally intervene and to substitute a favourable decision on her behalf. She was deciding between engaging my services as a registered migration agent or the services of an unregistered and illegal operator.
The unregistered migration agent had promised this poor lady that if her request for Ministerial Intervention had failed then he would personally set up a meeting between her and (wait for the punchline)..... the Prime Minister of Australia. This poor lady wanted to use my services but she also wanted to know whether or not I had the capacity or the ability to set up a meeting with the Prime Minister. Unfortunately, the answer was no and I assured her that she would receive the same response from every other registered migration agent in Australia. I did not hear from this lady ever again.
It does not matter who the Migration Agent is or what Australian immigration law firm or migration agency they come from - a registered migration cannot set up meetings for their client with the Prime Minister of Australia. If you want to get technical, it is the Migration Act which authorises the Minister to intervene in the decision making process. My view is that it would be unlawful for the Prime Minister to intervene in the decision making process. Even if the Prime Minister wanted to intervene, the law does not permit him to do so.
Unfortunately, this individual saw hope in the unregistered agents lies and deceit and she believed he would set up a meeting with the Prime Minister. Sadly, she made the incorrect choice. I could not have guaranteed that her application for Ministerial Intervention would have been a success, but at the same time she would have received accurate advice and truthful guidance throughout the entire process as opposed to false hope built on lies and deceit.
In any event, I could not let this incident slide - not because I was upset that an unregistered operator took a potential client away from me (I have helped many hundrdeds of individuals over the years) but the fact I could not stand idlly by and watch innocent people get taken advantage of for no reason other than the self serving interests of a criminal who manufactures lies for his own intentions.
I made a complaint directly to the immigration department who confirmed they would investigate my concerns.
This event took place nearly two years ago and this unregistered migration agent continues to operate. I know this because recently I was approached by a desperate individual not that long ago who was asked by the same criminal to place $500,000.00 into an Australian bank account so that he can pursue a business visa.
Let's forget for a moment this individual was subject to s48 of the Migration Act (this means he is out of luck and can't apply for anymore visas whilst he is in Australia) or that this individual was not a business person and had NIL business experience - I am able to confirm that no such business visa option currently exists. Can you imagine my jaw dropping to the ground when I heard this advice? I had to ask this individual to repeat what he was told - I confirmed that it was not possible and that he has received incorrect advice.
There are 5000 other migration agents in Australia for this individual to engage in Australia and he has more to choose from than he can ever imagine. This person does not need to retain my services - he just needs to stay away from this scamtrepeneur!
One can only imagine how much more false hope and lies this unregistered migration agent has regurgitated in running his illegal business.
I belive that professional responsibility involves recognising how to balance the various duties owed by migration agents to the Immigration Department, to the public and to the migration agents profession. I can only hope my compalint has progresed with the Department and justice is in the process of being served.