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