Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority

Removal of unrestricted laywers

Frequently asked questions

These frequently asked questions and answers were sent to all registered migration agents on 9 December 2020.
Frequently asked questions - removal of unrestricted legal practitioners from the OMARA regulatory scheme (information for lawyers) (PDF 268KB)

News

7 January 2020 - All-agent email - Action required: Australian Legal Practising Certificate holders

The following email was sent to all registered migration agents

Dear Registered Migration Agent

Please read the following information carefully as action may be required from you.

As most recently advised by email on 9 December 2020, legislation will commence on 22 March 2021 that will remove holders of unrestricted legal practising certificates (ULPCs) from the statutory scheme governing registered migration agents (RMAs). As a result, on 22 March 2021, holders of ULPCs will be removed from the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA) Register of Migration Agents (Register). Holders of ULPCs will no longer be able to register with the OMARA, but will be able to give immigration assistance without OMARA registration, and will be regulated solely by their own state or territory legal professional bodies.

Holders of restricted legal practising certificates (RLPCs) may continue to be registered as migration agents for an eligible period of two years following the commencement of the legislation on 22 March 2021. The holder of a RLPC may also apply to be granted a further period of eligibility of up to two years, if the OMARA finds that the extension would be reasonable in the circumstances. If you hold a RLPC, you will be required to be registered as a migration agent to give immigration assistance unless you are doing so under the supervision of a practitioner who holds an ULPC.

The OMARA is assisting the Department of Home Affairs to plan transition arrangements for holders of ULPCs to ensure that access to departmental systems such as ImmiAccount is not affected by their removal from the OMARA Register. To assist with this process, we ask that all ALPC holders update their PC details via the OMARA website to ensure their status is correct. Further information will be provided in due course on this matter.

For action

To ensure your name is not unnecessarily removed from the Register on 22 March 2021, please advise the OMARA, if any of the following circumstances apply.

You:

  • previously held an ULPC but no longer do;
  • intend to cease to be the holder of an ULPC before 22 March 2021;
  • expect to be the holder of a RLPC on 22 March 2021 – if so also advise which state or territory issued your RLPC.  

Please advise the OMARA accordingly by 27 January 2021 at OMARAderegenquiries@homeaffairs.gov.au.

Yours sincerely

Zdenka Zrno
Director Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority
Department of Home Affairs

20 October 2020 - Fact sheet: Removal of unrestricted lawyers from the OMARA regulatory scheme

The factsheet below addresses misinformation and provides further context on the changes associated with the Migration Amendment (Regulation of Migration Agents) Act 2020 and what it means for RMAs.

The OMARA website remains the most accurate and up-to-date source of information regarding the removal of unrestricted lawyers from the OMARA regulatory scheme.
Factsheet: Removal of unrestricted lawyers from the OMARA regulatory scheme

14 August 2020 - Implementation of the Acts Package

The Migration Amendment (Regulation of Migration Agents) Act 2020 and Migration Agents Registration Application Charge Amendment (Rates of Charge) Act 2020 (the Acts Package) received the Royal Assent on 22 June 2020. The subordinate regulations - Migration Agents Regulations 1998 and Migration Agents Registration Application Charge Regulations 1998 – will be amended accordingly, and the commencement of the amendments will be linked to the relevant schedules of the Acts Package.

The key schedule of the Acts Package, which removes the requirement for unrestricted legal practising certificate holders who give immigration assistance to register with the OMARA, will commence no later than 22 March 2021 (nine months after the Royal Assent). Until that time, legal practitioners must continue 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. Another schedule, that together with the amended regulations, will increase the period available to an individual to apply for repeat registration as a registered migration agent (RMA) from 12 months to three years, will commence at the same time.  We will provide comprehensive advice to the industry in the lead up to the commencement of these provisions.

On 11 August, some other measures of the Acts Package came into force, including:

  • removing redundant provisions in Part 3 of the Migration Act 1958, which governsRMAs.

  • allowing the OMARA to refuse an application for registration as an RMA if the applicant does not provide requested information, instead of leaving the application unfinalised indefinitely. This change will improve the administrative efficiency of the OMARA.

  • expansion of the definitions of 'immigration assistance' and 'makes immigration representations' for the purposes of Part 3 of the Migration Act 1958 to include assisting a person to make a representation to the Minister in relation to the revocation of a visa refusal or cancellation decision on character grounds under section 501C or 501CA. These amendments will deter those not registered as RMAs from assisting another person in making such representations to the Minister, and penalties will apply. Visa refusals and cancellations on character grounds are complex matters and the impact on an affected individual of poor advice or representation has the potential to be very damaging. As such, this amendment would better protect vulnerable consumers by ensuring only RMAs can lawfully assist them.

On 15 October, a further amendment will come into force, to clarify that an RMA who has paid the non‑commercial application charge, but gives immigration assistance otherwise than on a non‑commercial basis, is liable to pay an adjusted charge.

The Acts are accessible from the Federal Register of Legislation at: www.legislation.gov.au