As some of you know, some of our agents can no longer be found on the MARA Register. This is simply as a result of new legislation that came into force on 22nd March 2021.
Please be assured that it’s business as usual at Austral. The main points you need to know are:
- Immigration lawyers have been removed from the regulatory scheme of OMARA, however they have been and continue to be allowed to practice immigration law
- This does not mean that immigration lawyers are restricted/ less competent in providing migration services
- Austral Migration Consultancy houses both immigration lawyers and MARA agents.
- For existing clients, your lodged applications are not affected by the removal of John’s MARN
- You may verify our immigration lawyers’ LPN through the Australian Legal Profession Register
- In effect, this change only means that immigration lawyers are no longer bound by dual regulation. Instead, they are only subject to the relevant State/ Territory legal professional body (removes red tape)
The New Legislation
On 15th June 2020, the Australian government put into motion the removal of unnecessary dual regulation for a large section of legal practitioners operating in the migration advice industry. This change, celebrated and welcomed by many immigration lawyers, took effect on 22nd March 2021.
The change is as a result of the Migration Amendment (Regulation of Migration Agents) Act 2020, which requires the removal of lawyers from the regulatory scheme administered by the Office of Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA).
Lawyers would instead be regulated only by the relevant State or Territory legal professional body, and be able to provide immigration assistance without being a registered migration agent (RMA).
Therefore, as of 22nd March 2021, a large section of immigration lawyers would no longer be found on the MARA register. They would instead be verified through their Australian Legal Practitioner Number* (LPN).
How Dual Registration Used To Be
For nearly 30 years, immigration lawyers registered in Australia who wished to provide immigration assistance were subject to the regulatory framework of OMARA, in addition to being subject to extensive legal education, training and ethical standards.
Many from the legal fraternity resisted the regulation from OMARA due to the unnecessary double regulation, burdensome extra cost to maintain their MARA registrations and more pertinently, limiting the resources available to vulnerable groups in need of migration advice.
How Current Registration Is Beneficial To Our Clients
- Clarity – The existence of separate registers for immigration lawyers and migration agents makes it easier to determine the range of service they are equipped to provide.
- Increased choice – Clients are no longer bound to approach only MARA agents for migration assistance. Unrestricted legal practitioners can now provide immigration assistance in connection with legal practice.
- Increased competition for high quality services – A wider pool of lawyers benefit clients as it increases competition for better services provided.
- Disciplinary procedures simplified – When a complaint is lodged by a client, the essence of the complaint no longer needs to be scrutinized between ‘immigration advice’ (governed by OMARA) and ‘immigration legal advice’ (governed by the relevant legal services regulator).
- Strengthened consumer protection – the confusion brought about by the nuances of immigration lawyer versus migration agent has been a known deterrence for consumers to seek recourse for malpractice. This new change provides clear direction for clients to escalate their complaints and seek justice.
How Will This Affect Clients?
The main takeaway for our clients should be: It’s business as usual at AMC!
As a firm which houses both immigration lawyers AND registered migration agents, our operations are not affected and neither should your confidence in us. We will continue to offer quality service and assistance that suit your migration applications and concerns.
In a nutshell, from a client’s perspective, the only tangible differences for your migration application are the following:
- ONE changed form: Form 956 for appointing a third party will authorize a registered migration agent, legal practitioner or exempt person to assist you with your migration application
- Verification of appointed person: Previously, your options for migration assistance are bound to only the MARA register. Now, your options have been expanded to include immigration lawyers from the States/ Territories which you can verify by confirming their LPN*.
*This LPN database is reported to be available in Q4 of 2021, as the transitional period is ongoing. Currently, verification of legal practitioners can be done through the Australian Legal Profession Register.
We look forward to assisting you with your application soon!