AMVL Blog

Why use a Registered Migration Agent?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Blog by Helen Duncan, Director & Registered Migration Agent (MARN) 0003187 at AMVL Migrations.

I am often asked by clients why they should use a registered migration agent (RMA) to assist them with their application.   I usually reply that people can certainly lodge their own application as there is no requirement to use a RMA.  However of course I have to say that it better to use a RMA for a whole variety of reasons.

1. I can save you time and money
RMAs provide a professional service much like any other profession.  I like to compare the service to something that an accountant could offer you in lodging your tax return, or a lawyer is drawing up your will.  These are things that you can do yourself but it takes a lot of time to work out how to do it and you could potentially lose money if you don’t do it right.  I guess these days, lots of us even go to Dr Google when we don’t feel well.  I can see the look of dismay on my doctor’s face when I mention that I did some internet research and I know how she feels.

2. I can take on your anxieties
So I can save you lots of time and maybe lots of money but even more, I can take on your stress of lodging a visa application.  I also teach at ANU in the Graduate Certificate of Migration Law and Practice, and I always emphasise to the students who hope to become agents, that our profession has a huge responsibility to our clients.  I see myself taking on your hopes and dreams of a future life in Australia, and doing all I can to make it happen.  It means I lose a lot of sleep at times worrying about your application, but I take my job very seriously.

3. I know what I am doing
I have been an agent for over 14 years so I like to think that I also know what I am doing.  Every case is very different so speaking to a friend about what they did with their case is often of no help to you with your case.  Migration legislation is complex and constantly changing and it is my job to keep up with the changes and understand what they mean for my clients.  I can present you with options and hopefully find a fix for any problems.

4. You have consumer protection
One client did mention that he used a RMA because then he had someone to sue if it didn’t go well.  This was a bit worrying but it is correct (he has never sued us by the way).  All RMAs have to be registered by the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA).  This means we must abide by a strict code of conduct that is designed to protect the consumers, and if we breach any part of the code, you can complain about us.  The complaints may lead to a suspension or barring of our registration, so RMAs are always very careful to follow the code.  MARA also requires that we hold professional indemnity insurance – just in case you have been financially disadvantaged.

Given the above, it is always very important that you check that the agent that you are using is registered with the MARA.  This is easy to do by going to the MARA’s website – www.mara.gov.au . There are unfortunately many people in the community who provide immigration advice and are not registered.  This means that you have no protection and they often are not very scrupulous people.

So who are we?  There are about 5000 RMAs according to the latest statistics from the MARA. Approximately 96% of us operate from a base in Australia and our average age is 44 years.  Most of us (55%) are male and 40% are sole traders.  We are a fairly young profession with only 26% of RMAs being registered for more than 10 years and 41% being registered for 3 years or less.  This makes me a bit out of the norm - female, a “bit” older than 44 and with a registration of over 10 years!

We do a lot of visa work with 70% of permanent employer sponsored visa applications and 69% of 457 visa applications lodged by RMAs.  In addition we assist with 30% of family visa applications, 35% of General Skilled Migration visa applications, 68% of business visa application and 49% of protection visa applications.

If you do decide to use a RMA, you are making the same decision as many other people who would have also asked the question “should I use a RMA?”, and made the decision to use one of us.  The decision is usually based on a number of different things like time, money, security, anxiety – but I think for most of them, it was a good decision.

To meet the team of Registered Migration Agents at AMVL Migrations, visit our team page.


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My new life as an Australian citizen

Monday, September 15, 2014

Blog by Beatrice Rosales (16), daughter of Gisela Rosales, Accountant at AMVL Migrations.

Starting fresh can be a very big decision to make let alone starting fresh in another country. But it is one of the most rewarding decisions that I (or my parents) have made in my life.  Life before Australia was relatively breezy living in Papua New Guinea. However, something was missing – sure living in Papua New Guinea offered us a stable lifestyle but over the years I began to want more in my life. Growing up I knew that I have always wanted to travel and see the world. I wanted to experience a new atmosphere, venture out in a place that I have never been before. So, being cooped up in this small place wasn’t really helping. 

As a child I knew Australia wasn’t far from Papua New Guinea – I remember the Australian news playing on the old box TV situated in the living room. I had from a young age seen Australia from just what I saw on the television and from close relatives living there. Time after time I would ask myself, “how great would it be to visit Australia?” In 2008, I was given the opportunity, with my family, to travel to Australia for vacation. During our stay I began to absorb the luxurious lifestyle Australia had to offer. I felt like this is where I wanted my life to be, where my journey needed to continue. 

Moving to Australia was like trying new food – you had no clue what you are in for but you know that it’ll be great. Over the last 6 years, living in Australia had changed many aspects in my life from the way I talked to the places I went. I began to adjust in school and grew new friendships with a very multicultural group of people. Just recently I had become an Australian citizen and I saw this as a very important opportunity.  

As an Australian citizen I call Australia my home with pride and entitle myself with vast responsibilities. Living in such a multicultural and economically stable society as an Australian citizen I hold the responsibility in shaping the bright future I aspire for Australia to have. Being a student who has been thinking so deeply about my future I take whole heartedly the benefits of being an Australian citizen. A perk would be from having the opportunity in going to university without being financially unstable to voting in who best helps in shaping our country. Aside from those a major perk is the divine landmarks for everyone – from Uluru to Bondi Beach and everything in-between all these things make me feel proud to call myself an Australian Citizen.  



(L-R: Gisela, Pete, Jaime (front), Patricia & Beatrice)


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457 Sponsorship Obligations - Taking on more than just an Applicant

Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Blog by Hamish Martin, Registered Migration Agent (MARN) 1462173 at AMVL Migrations.

When an employer enquires about a 457 visa inevitably the first question I am always asked is “What am I required to do as a sponsor?” – The simple answer is treat them like you would an Australian employee, however the question is a lot more complex than you might expect. 

First of all the business needs to sign up to become an approved sponsor, usually by applying for a Standard Business Sponsorship (SBS), which involves the business showing that they are actively and lawfully operating in Australia, have no adverse information against the business and be able to meet the training benchmark. While most businesses are able to show that they are lawfully operating and have no adverse information, many businesses fall down on meeting the training benchmark. 

The training benchmark is a great way for the government to ensure that Australian Citizens and Permanent Residents in the business are being looked after. The training benchmark requires a business to meet one of the following benchmarks:

Benchmark A: At least 2% of the total payroll of the business is allocated to an industry training fund operating in the same industry as the business.

Benchmark B: At least 1% of the total payroll of the business is allocated to the internal or external training of Australian citizens or Permanent Resident employees.

If the business can satisfy this requirement they can generally apply for an SBS.
 
During the application process, the business makes a number of commitments to the Department of Immigration that are activated once the SBS is approved. Over the life of their sponsorship they are required to abide by nine primary obligations including:
  1. Cooperate with inspectors – including Department of Immigration agents and Fair Work agents.
  2. Ensure equivalent terms and conditions of employment – ensure that the terms and conditions of the contract are no less favourable than those offered to an Australian citizen or permanent resident.
  3. Pay travel costs to enable sponsored persons to leave Australia – If the applicant requests in writing then the sponsor is obliged to pay for an economy flight back to the applicants’ country of origin.
  4. Pay costs incurred by the Commonwealth to locate and remove unlawful non-citizen – the sponsoring business may be required to pay costs incurred by the Commonwealth in locating and removing sponsored applicants who have become unlawful. .
  5. Keep accurate records – Records must be kept showing your compliance with your sponsorship obligations .
  6. Provide information to Immigration when certain events occur – including when employment ceases, a change of work duties, change of sponsor contact details or complying with other sponsorship obligations.
  7. Ensure primary sponsored person works or participates in nominated occupation – The applicant must work in the nominated occupation. If you require the applicant to work in a different occupation then a new nomination must be done.
  8. Not to recover, transfer or take actions that result in another person paying for certain costs – The sponsoring business cannot seek to recover costs that relate to the recruitment or sponsorship of the primary sponsored person.
  9. Provide training to Australian Citizens and Permanent Residents – The sponsoring business must maintain either training benchmark ‘A’ or ‘B’ for every year that they sponsor an applicant under their SBS.
While most of the obligations are just good work practice, businesses should be aware of the commitments they are making signing up to be a sponsor. Recently we have become aware of several cases where sponsors have not met their obligations and have been subsequently fined and/or prosecuted, so it is therefore extremely important that you keep good records of your compliance with all your sponsorship obligations, because as we all know ignorance of the law is no excuse.

If you would like to discuss either becoming a Standard Business Sponsor or ensuring compliance with one of the above mentioned obligations, please do not hesitate to contact either myself or one of our other friendly Registered Migration Agents by emailing migrate@australianmigartions.com or call +61 7 3212 2200. 


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