DON’T Hire a Migration Agent in Sydney Until You’ve Read This Article!
I have been a Registered Migration Agent for more than ten years, and know too well the consequences that poor visa decisions 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 asked me to help prepare false employment references. The individual was provided with an ethical alternative to the criminal act they were interested in pursuing. Unfortunately, my recommendation was declined in favor of a poor decision which is likely to have disastrous consequences for this person.
It is a matter of time before I hear from this person again, as tends to happen when poor decisions fail to achieve the desired outcome. More often than not, these individuals return with tales of hardships, money lost and false expectations that were never readched. Some individuals have found themselves on the wrong side of the law, in jail and even banned from Australia!
Wrong decisions can be costly. It is important that you choose the right Migration Agent who has sufficient industry experience to act in your best interests and help you achieve a favourable outcome.
Easier said than done, right?
How many Migration Agents are there in Sydney?
Most people can’t answer this question. Perhaps this is not a question you would consider when looking 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 my clients and happened to identify a surprising 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.
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 achieve favorable outcomes where their cases seemed almost impossible – I enjoy meeting new clients after other Registered Migration Agents have told them they are unable to 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 current processing times 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 a proven history in helping other clients with similar visa requirements. 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.
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 (closing in on 11) 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 –
The data I’ve revealed confirms that 62.5 percent of Migration Agents in Sydney have less than 5 years of experience.
You don’t have to hire me, or any other Migration Agent with at least ten years of relevant experience. The purpose of this article is to inform your decision making. Remember, I have recommended that you hire a Migration Agent for your Partner visa 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. (with good reason).
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!).
We can see there was a decline in the number of Migration Agents since 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 in 2018 represented a significant change to the Australian immigration system, which had widespread implications not only to Migration Agents, but to Australian employers and visa applicants.
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 Abbott 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.