17 June 2020 - Bill package passes the Senate
The Migration Amendment (Regulation of Migration Agents) Bill 2019 and Migration Agents Registration Application Charge Amendment (Rates of Charge) Bill 2019 (the Bill package) passed the Senate on Monday 15 June 2020.
The Bill package comprises several different parts across the two pieces of legislation - the Migration Amendment (Regulation of Migration Agents) Bill 2019 and Migration Agents Registration Application Charge Amendment (Rates of Charge) Bill 2019.
You can read about the Bills in detail at:
In general terms, most of the Bill package will commence six or nine months after the Royal Assent, or at specified dates within that six or nine month period. The Bills are expected to receive the Royal Assent in the next few working days. The Department of Home Affairs will provide comprehensive advice to the industry closer to the commencement dates to allow them to prepare for the changes to the regulatory framework.
There is no change to current legislative requirements until the Bills commence. Until that time, legal practitioners still need to register with the OMARA and pay an application fee in order to provide immigration assistance. Penalties still apply for providing immigration assistance if not a registered migration agent or exempt person.
There will be no refund on the registration (or repeat registration) application charge for legal practitioners who will be removed from the OMARA regulatory framework at the commencement of the Bill package. The registration application charge imposed by section 4 of the Migration Agents Registration Application Charge Act 1997 is for the assessment of a registration application, which is completed when a registration application is assessed and decided. It is not a yearly registration fee. Pursuant to section 288(7) of the Migration Act 1958, registration application fees are non-refundable.
Further details on implementing these changes will be provided as they come to hand.
25 January 2019 - Updated practice guides
The OMARA practice guides to assist registered migration agents in meeting their obligations under the Code of Conduct for RMAs have been updated and are now available on the OMARA website. All registered migration agents are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the guides.
2 May 2017 - Recent regulation changes
This update provides information on a number of changes to the Migration Agents Regulations which took effect on 18 April 2017.
Continuing professional development (CPD)
As a result of Recommendation 10 of the Independent Review of OMARA, a new simplified CPD framework will be implemented from 1 January 2018. A number of changes that will be of interest to CPD providers are reflected in the revised regulations. There will be no change in regard to the CPD requirements for agents who will continue to be required to complete the specified 10 CPD points each year. Further detail will be provided in the lead up to implementation.
Average fee information collection
There has also been a minor change relating to the collection of information about fees charged by migration agents. This change gives the OMARA the flexibility to consider more efficient ways of collecting the data.
Immigration assistance given by Agents as employers and sponsors
Amendments to the regulations now make it clear that whatever role an agent plays in relation to a visa application, they are at all times subject to the Code of Conduct (the Code). For example, a registered migration agent who is giving immigration assistance to an individual in their capacity as that individual’s employer or sponsor, must conduct themselves in accordance with the Code. This enhances consumer protection as it corrects an anomaly where agents in this circumstance were able to avoid their obligations under the Code.
Minor amendments have been made to the Code such that an agent is not prevented from giving immigration assistance to an individual they employ or sponsor unless there is conflict of interest.
The amended version of the Code is now available on the OMARA website.
Code of Conduct
3 March 2017 - Upcoming CPD changes
Recommendation 10 of the Independent Review of the OMARA suggested substantial changes to the provision of CPD for registered migration agents.
Recommendation 10 reads:
The Inquiry recommends the creation of a more open and competitive market-based framework for the provision of CPD. In such a framework, the role of the OMARA will be significantly reduced and generally restricted to:
• determining the eligibility of a firm or organisation to provide CPD services – noting that, beyond having to meet defined criteria, the type and number of service providers that can operate should be determined by the market;
• setting the requirements for registered agents to complete CPD learnings in core competency areas, noting that this should be structured to allow greater flexibility and variance in the learning offered; and
• monitoring compliance by registered agents with CPD requirements, preferably as part of the re-registration process for migration agents.
Work is underway to implement a new scheme, which will take effect on 1 January 2018. Detailed information on the changes will be published in April 2017, following amendment of the regulations.