Migration, although a costly and complex process, is one of the most profoundly life-changing decisions you’ll ever experience.
Such an important process requires assistance from a highly qualified, registered and regulated professional.
Currently, three categories of advisers are permitted to provide migration assistance to clients in Australia (although this may change soon).
Mygrate is partnered with professionals from all three categories, ensuring that your needs are well met. These three categories are listed as follows:
1. A Registered Migration Agent (RMA)
Currently, according to Australian Law, only Registered Migration Agents are permitted to provide ‘immigration assistance’ (as defined in s276 of the Migration Act 1958), with the exception of a sponsor, a close family member, a member of parliament or a government official providing assistance as part of their job.
However, Registered Migration Agents are not permitted to provide ‘immigration legal assistance’ (within the meaning of s277 of the Migration Act 1958).
2. Lawyers who are not registered as Migration Agents.
As a general rule, lawyers who are not registered as a Migration Agent can provide ‘immigration legal assistance’, but are not permitted to provide ‘immigration assistance’ (within the meaning of s276 of the Migration Act 1958).
3. Lawyers who are also registered as Migration Agents.
A Lawyer who is also registered as a Migration Agent can provide both ‘immigration legal assistance’ and ‘immigration assistance’ – they can assist and provide advice about both matters. A Lawyer with an RMA licence can help you prepare your documents, act as your proxy in court or before the tribunal and provide advice relating to all immigration matters. Often, a RMA Lawyer will be part of a larger law firm, in which case they can connect the client directly to complimentary legal services.
So, what is the difference between an RMA and an RMA lawyer if they can both provide immigration assistance?
Both Registered Migration Agents and RMA Lawyers can provide you with immigration assistance. So, how are they different? And how do you choose which professional will best suit your needs? As you’ve just read above, both RMAs and RMA Lawyers can provide immigration assistance to clients, but how do they differ from each other?
There are several differences – below is a list.
Training and Education
Qualification: Lawyers study for 3 years (minimum) at a university level to obtain their legal degree. As a non-lawyer, an individual undergoes 6 months of study before obtaining a certificate to apply to be a Migration Agent.
Migration Agents have to complete a 1-year Postgraduate degree, meaning they generally already have to hold a Bachelor degree in order to access this course. Specifically, a Graduate Diploma in Australian Migration Law and Practice is what both Migration Agents and Lawyers equally have to complete to be able to practice in this field. Hence when it comes to migration matters the professional preparation is to be considered equal as both parties have to adhere to OMARA’s Code of Conduct and provide confidentiality and high professional standards to all clients regardless of their past studies.
Experience: Australian immigration law is incredibly complex and forever changing. As such, Lawyers will not only train in immigration law but also how to analyse, interpret and apply Australian legislation and case law. Both RMAs and RMA Lawyers will have different levels of experience providing immigration advice.
Advocacy: Lawyers are experienced in preparing legal submissions and identifying issues of evidence and proof. They will advocate for you in court or before a tribunal, and present your case in the best way possible within the requirements of Australian legislation.
It is important to note that a non-lawyer RMA cannot represent you in court nor provide you with legal advice in relation to immigration matters, however, for immigration purpose solely, an RMA is more than qualified to assist you.
Supervision: Along with their university degree, Lawyers are required to complete a period of supervised practical legal work experience. Non-Lawyer Registered Migration Agents are not required to complete any similar work experience; they are officially qualified to provide ‘immigration advice’ as soon as they are registered.
Continuous Training: Both Lawyers and Migration Agents need to comply with continuing professional development requirements.
A non-lawyer Registered Migration Agent is qualified to provide immigration assistance, however, they are prohibited from providing any kind of legal advice. Immigration matters can sometimes go hand-in-hand with other associated issues such as tax law, family law, employment law, property law, commercial law and criminal law – an RMA Lawyer is both permitted and qualified to advise on these matters.
Ethical Standards, Regulation and Professional Conduct
All Registered Migration Agents are required to comply with the OMARA Code of Conduct. RMA Lawyers are required to comply with this same code, along with the strict ethical and professional standards expected of a legal practitioner and an Officer of the Court. Effectively, RMA Lawyers are subjected to dual regulation and are answerable to two different regulatory bodies.
Legal Professional Privilege (Confidentiality)
Both RMAs and Lawyers have a professional responsibility to keep their clients’ details and affairs strictly confidential. However, only Lawyers can claim the protection of legal professional privilege for their clients.
Seeking professional assistance to relocate to Australia? Click here
#1 – Start your job search before you even arrive in Australia
English fluency will play a significant role in your pursuit of employment in Australia. Brush up on your skills, and practice answering interview questions.
To give yourself the best start possible, begin preparing for work before you even leave home. If you haven’t done already, have all your qualifications and certificates translated into English and verified. Employers will want to see how your experience and qualifications compare to the equivalent in Australia, as this will allow them to better assess your application.
In Australia, you’ll need a Resume (or Curriculum Vitae – CV) outlining your experience and qualifications, and a covering letter (to formally introduce yourself and tell the employer what makes you perfect for the role) to apply for jobs. Have these as printed hard copies to hand to employers directly, and also in digital format to apply for jobs online.
#2 – Get local experience
Although you may be experienced in your home country, you’ll be much more employable in Australia with some local work experience. Volunteering is a great way to start – not only will this help you gain some experience, but also help you to network, form new relationships and gain confidence speaking English and navigating the Australian workplace.
#3 – Sign up for online job boards
The most common places for employers to advertise vacancies online in Australia are seek.com.au, indeed.com.au and joralocal.com.au. You can create a profile online, upload your resume and apply for jobs directly or through a recruitment agency.
#4 – Approach employers
Around 83% of jobs in Australia are hidden or not advertised – increase your chances by handing around CV’s in person – you never know who is hiring! If you see a job advertisement online or in the newspaper, don’t be afraid to go and see the employer in person to introduce yourself! The effort will not go unnoticed. Smile, dress appropriately and be prepared with your resume. In Australia, it’s appropriate and professional to handshake when forming a new acquaintance, or at the commencement/conclusion of an interview. Follow up the day after with a phone call or email to make your application memorable.
#5 – Ask for help
Finding work is not an easy thing, let alone in a country away from home. There are plenty of resources available to help you in your search – don’t be afraid to utilise them! Recruitment agencies can help you put together a resume, practice interview skills and search for opportunities. If you’re a student, there will usually be an international student association with your provider.
Below are some useful websites and resources that we think may help you in your search!
Immigration reforms scheduled for 2018
2018 is set to bring about some important and significant reforms to both the Migration Act 1958 and the Migration Regulations 1994. The elimination of the Temporary Work (Skilled) Visa under subclass 457 of the Regulations (‘457 Visa’) will be the first of two major changes happening this year (in March), with the government introducing a new visa in its place called the Temporary Short Stay visa (‘TSS Visa’). The other significant change will be the refresh of the partner visa application process, which is scheduled to take place mid-year.
Elimination of the 457 programme Visa and the new TSS Visa
From next month (March 2018), the 457 Visa programme is being officially eliminated and replaced with the new TSS Visa programme.
The TSS Visa will be made up of two streams – a Short-Term stream (allowing for stays of up to two years), and a Medium-Term stream (allowing for stays of up to four years). The length of Visa will depend on the occupation nominated by the sponsoring employer. The Visa application fees charged by the Department of Home Affairs will be:
- $1,150 for the 2 year Visa
- $2,400 for the 4 year Visa
The Short-Term stream of the TSS Visa (up to two-year stays), has been designed for Australian businesses to fill skill shortages with foreign workers on a strictly temporary basis. Occupations can be nominated from the Short-Term Skilled Occupation List only. Importantly, a major change to foreign worker programme is that the Short-Term stream of the TSS Visa is renewable only once and there is no pathway to permanent residency.
The Medium-Term stream of the TSS Visa has been designed for Australian businesses to fill skill shortages with foreign workers in much more higher-skill and in-demand occupations. Individuals with occupations on the Medium to Long-Term Skilled Occupation List may be eligible to apply for this stream of the TSS Visa which allows for a transition to permanent residency once the Visa holder has worked for their sponsoring employer for a minimum of three years. Visa holders may also renew their Visas unlimited times – depending on their employer sponsorship agreement.
Until March 2018, the 457 Visa programme will stay in place. We encourage you to contact one of our expert Migration Agents as soon as possible to discuss your situation and how these changes may impact your plans. Fill out our initial client questionnaire here, and get in contact with our expert Migration Agents.
Partner Visa Changes
Partner Visa sponsorship changes were initially planned to take effect as of 1st July 2017. However, due to the Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2016 delaying in the Senate, these changes have not yet been passed. The new legislation proposes that Partner Visa sponsorship applications are lodged under much stricter criteria and approved before a Partner Visa application can be lodged. This will delay the process of Partner Visa applications substantially.
We highly recommend that if you are a prospective applicant of this Visa, to take advantage of the delay in Senate, and contact one of our expert Migration Agents to discuss your situation before the changes take place (scheduled for effect as of 1st July 2018).
Fill out our initial client questionnaire here to get in contact with our Migration Agents, and get the process started.
Getting ready to move to another country can be a stressful and daunting task. With preparing Visas, making bookings and arranging paperwork, it can be easy to forget to prepare yourself emotionally too! We’ve put together some tips and advice to help make your transition to living in Australia as enjoyable and seamless as possible.
Practice your English!
Learning basic phrases before you move can help you enormously in the first few weeks of living in another country. Not only will it help you to navigate everyday tasks like buying groceries, it will help you form connections with people and give you the opportunity to make new friends!
Find a support group – whether it be a facebook group for expats, fitness class or just socialising with housemates, it’s SO important to get out and about with other people who have similar interests and life experiences. Socialising with peers will help you to feel at home, and act as a support network. Mygrate has a direct messaging function that you can use to contact other expats!
Do some research
Research the area you’re planning to move to. Although exploring is fun, knowing where the important places are can help you feel more secure and comfortable in your new home. The local shopping areas, bus stops, your local bank, library, parks and recreation areas and the closest train station are all essential to mark on your map. Mygrate has team members in both Perth and Melbourne, so contact us for recommendations on fantastic places to visit!
Watch some Australian movies/TV shows
Not only to practice your English, but just for fun! Get to know the Australian sense of humour and way of life. Australian travel documentaries can inspire you to plan some trips when you get here!
Get tech savvy
Connecting with friends and family back home has never been easier thanks to modern technology. Get familiar with Skype and direct messaging apps; all you have to do is find some free reliable wi-fi, and you can talk to family and friends whenever you like!
If you’re just beginning to plan your relocation to Australia, we recommend you connect with an expert Migration Agent to get the process started.
Choosing a Migration Agent that will suit your individual needs is one of the most important decisions you can make that will increase your chances of successfully obtaining a Visa.
It is also one of the biggest challenges. With just over 7000 Migration Agents registered in Australia, here are some tips to take into consideration when deciding which one is the best fit for you!
1. Check the Agent’s credentials
Firstly, the most important thing to check is if the Migration Agent is registered with The Office of the MARA in Australia (Migration Agents Registration Authority). This is the governing authority for Migration Agents in Australia. The law requires every Migration Agent operating in Australia to be registered with the MARA, and adhere to their Code of Conduct. This Code is available for you to view, along with details of every registered Agent in Australia at www.mara.gov.au
2. Do your research
Migration Agents will often specialise and have experience in a specific area. It’s advisable to have a rough idea of which Visa you think you might be eligible for and then approach an Agent who specialises in that particular type of application. Most agents will list which areas they specialise in on their website.
3. Experience is important
Experienced Agents will sometimes charge a higher fee than less experienced Agents. But if you think you might have a very complex application, we recommend you choose an Agent with as much experience as possible. Australian immigration laws and requirements are updated often, so it is in your best interests to find an Agent who knows these laws back-to-front and can interpret them in your favour.
4. Find someone you gel with!
Visa applications can be a lengthy and complicated process, so it’s important to choose a Migration Agent who is friendly, approachable and well-spoken, and who is enthusiastic about advocating for you. Also – communication is paramount, so if you’re still practising your English language skills, perhaps choose an Agent who is bilingual and happy to speak with you in your first language; it makes a huge difference when you work with someone who actually cares about your situation and individual circumstances!
5. Get to know them
Look for an Agent who has plenty of positive feedback! This is a great way to get to know the Agent’s abilities and success rate, without committing to a consultation.
6. Try before you buy
Agents will usually offer an initial consultation for a once-off fee, which is then deducted from the final quote if you decide to take them on. However, you can book in for a consultation with as many Agents as it takes to find the right one, and remember, until you sign a binding contract, you’re not obliged to engage in their services.
7. Investigate further
The initial consultation is a great opportunity to gauge the Agents skill and experience, and for the Agent to assess how they can best help you. Be ready for your consultation and prepare as many questions as you can; a quality Agent will not have a problem explaining anything you need to know. This is also a good time to ask about the Agent’s fees – the Agent should be able to clearly explain all related costs.
Here at Mygrate, we provide immigrants with a large database of registered, reliable, reputable and experienced Migration Agents of varied skills and backgrounds. Join us today to connect with the best Agent for you!