Registered Migration Agent-Australia
In Australia, a person who assists you in making an application to DIAC for a visa, or an application to a court/tribunal on an immigration matter, must usually be registered with the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA). Such a person is known as a Registered Migration Agent (RMA).
In order to become an RMA, a person must have a certain level of knowledge of immigration law and meet certain other requirements. There are requirements to keep knowledge up to date (to a certain level) in order to maintain registration.
Australian lawyers can register as RMAs if they wish to work in immigration. However, many RMAs are not lawyers.
Some aspects of immigration are not covered by the regulations and technically, a non-RMA can grant assistance. These include:
Many RMAs also belong to the Migration Institute of Australia (MIA).
 Seven digit registration number
 What areas does an agent specialise in?
There is a wide range of areas that an agent can deal in, including:
There are some agents out there who have enough breadth of experience to provide a "full service", in other words, competent advice on a wide range of visas. Other agents choose to specialise in only one or two areas of migration. If you ask an agent to assist you and the agent does not feel qualified, the agent should advise you of that and if possible, refer you to another.
 Do I need an agent?
Some people do their own migration application. However, skilled migration is now substantially more complex than in 2002-03 and a good agent will add a lot of value. Making the wrong choice of agent usually leads to a worse outcome than doing it yourself. So choose carefully.
 Does my agent need to be a lawyer?
Generally, no, if you are applying for a skilled visa, unless you intend to test some point of legal principle. In fact, a non-lawyer RMA will usually know more about certain areas of visas, such as skilled visas, than a typical lawyer.
On the other hand, there are some areas of migration that involve specific legal principles (unusual for the majority of offshore cases) and in these cases, a lawyer agent is essential.
If you do need a lawyer, make sure your lawyer is not just an RMA, but also an accredited specialist in immigration law by at least one State/Territory law society.
 Agents outside Australia
There are a few RMAs outside Australia, but not many. This is because one of the requirements is to be an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or New Zealand citizen (in Australia).
If you choose an unregistered offshore agent, and things go wrong, there is nothing MARA can do to assist you.
 How to choose a migration agent
Consider the following:
Some agents offer a "no visa, no fee" service. It is up to you whether you consider this or not. Many agents, including many of the more experienced agents, instead prefer simply not to take on cases that they feel have little or no chance of a visa. An experienced agent has a professional reputation that he or she usually wants to protect.
Some people prefer to have an agent based in home country, but for skilled visas, the processing is usually done in Australia so having an Australia-based agent makes sense. Communication can easily be done by phone or email. If documents need to be sent, there are good courier services (FedEx, DHL, etc).
Before you become a client, your RMA should give you a Statement of Services outlining the services to be provided and the associated fees. You should also get a copy of the Code of Conduct, read it and become familiar with it.
 What can your agent do for you?
Your agent can:
 What your agent CANNOT do
On the other hand, your agent cannot:
You also have to obtain your employment references, documents such as birth certificates, education certificates and transcripts, etc. In other words, your agent cannot do any of the "legwork" for you.
 How to deal with your agent
You have paid a lot for the service of your RMA, so you have the right to expect the agent to file your application as quickly as possible, and also you have the right to expect your agent to be in regular contact with you. Good agents are happy to facilitate this. If you send an email or make a phone call you should expect a reply within a day or two.
On the other hand, don't "pester" your agent with daily calls or emails. Migration is a matter of months and sometimes years, not days.
It is acceptable to be an informed client. If you see something on the DIAC website or elsewhere that you think might be relevant to your case, by all means bring it to your agent's attention and ask for a comment.
 If it all goes wrong
Normally you should try to work things out with your agent and find a way to amicably resolve the problem, or terminate services, however if this doesn't work:
Any fees outstanding are a matter of civil law and the agent will have to take legal action to force you to pay. If you have paid fees in advance, the agent must hold these in a clients account until services have been provided and the clients account is subject to MARA regulation.
You can notify DIAC that you are no longer the client of an agent by using Form 956. Most skill assessment and state authorities either have their own form for this purpose or will accept a form 956.
If you wish to hire a new RMA you need to show that agent a copy of your notice to the previous agent terminating services.