Looking for an Australia registered migration agent is key step for people who are looking to start a visa application but who have decided to engage an agent or agency to do it for them rather than doing it themselves. If you are looking to migrate to Australia from Singapore, here are some tips on verifying your agency is licensed to provide you the legal advice.
The first step is to check if they are registered with the Migration Agents Registration Authority or MARA for short, there aren’t many MARA agents in Singapore.
What Does MARA Do?
The government department is a part of the Department of Home Affairs (formerly named the Department of Immigration and Border Patrol) and in their own words their main objective is to:
- Make sure migration clients understand their rights
- Migration agents understand their obligations
- Quality control in who can and can’t be a migration agent and be allowed to stayed registered
- Agents maintain the knowledge and skills needed to provide accurate and timely advice to their clients
- Monitor for integrity of conduct and quality of immigration assistance
- Clients or former clients have an effective way to complain about any given migration agent
How Do You Check That Your MARA Agency/ Agent Is Registered In Singapore?
First you’ll need to get the MARA registration number of the company – it’s usually displayed prominently on their website, either in the footer or on the about page. It can also be included in email signatures of consultants in a company.
If it’s not there, you can always ask them when you first make contact with a consultant – they will have to provide this number if they claim to be a registered migration agent/ agency.
You can also ask for the number once you get to your consultation.
Once you have the number, go to https://www.mara.gov.au/search-the-register-of-migration-agents/ and put the number into the field that’s labelled ‘Migration Agents Registration Number (MARN)’ and click search.
Some agencies have multiple agents, so you may be provided with multiple numbers to check.
Here is my number for our Singapore office for you to check: 1797371
If you had used my number, you would have seen something like this (design might have been updated but the results should be almost the same):
You can see that my status is ‘Registered’.
If when you do your search it says ‘suspended’ or ‘cancelled’ please be careful, this is not a currently registered migration agent.
Also make sure the migration agent is tagged to the business entity that you are at. You can see that mine is tagged to our Singapore business entity, Austral Migration Consultancy Pte Ltd rather than some other business entity completed.
This means that I act locally for a locally registered business. I.e. I am a registered MARA agent/agency based in Singapore, you’ll note that the list for Singapore-based MARA agents is much smaller than before.
This is because they now only display results of the agents who live in that country, rather than are registered in that country but don’t live there.
MARA don’t give certificates to prove that agents are certified, unlike doctors or other occupations who sometimes are given certificates, so you will have to use the website to check.
Why Use An Australian Registered MARA Agent?
The migration environment is fluid and ever changing, making Australian migration laws and regulations complex. There are many steps required in migrating to Australia from Singapore and it can be complex and time consuming to manage it yourself.
If you are looking at using a third party to apply for your visa on your behalf, you have the rights to know who is giving you the advice you are paying for.
If anything goes wrong and I act unbecoming to the migration agent’s Code of Conduct (COC) my clients would have the right to make a complaint against me to MARA who can investigate and take action.
Ultimately, using a registered migration agent who is based in Singapore (in person) means you would in a way be protected through your application process by 1) MARA themselves and 2) the fact that the agent themselves would act in accordance to the COC as they know their license is at stake.
If you would like to talk to a registered migration agent about skilled migration from Singapore, please fill in the form below.