Non-genuine migration agents are bad news. They lie, cheat and trick applicants out of their hard-earned money, before vanishing in a puff of smoke without a chance of a visa grant ever being issued. 

With all the recent media coverage surrounding visa fraud and program rorting lately, Migration Solutions have put together 6 warning signs you should look out for before proceeding with anybody claiming to be a registered migration agent.

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1. They make promises that sound too good to be true.

Misleading migration agents or people who are impersonating migration agents tend to only care about one thing; getting their hands on your money. The easiest way for them to do that is for them to tell you exactly what you want to hear – that they can get your visa application approved as quick as a flash, even if other people have told you that your circumstances do not meet the requirements for a visa to be issued. Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

2. They offer to provide you with references or financial documents

If a migration agent or another person offers to supplement your application with supporting documents such as employment references or financial statements, run the other way. It is illegal for you or migration agents to provide false or misleading information to the Department of Immigration in support of a visa application, and could result in a PIC 4020 being handed onto the applicant, preventing you from applying for an Australian visa for three years!

3. They make questionable payment requests

Another giveaway that a so-called migration agent may not be acting in your best interest is if they ask you to make large up-front payment for their assistance without a contract or providing a written receipt which includes their name and business details. Requests for cash or bank transfers to a personal account rather than a business client account are also indicators that your agent might be acting unlawfully or inappropriately.

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4. They claim to have special contacts inside the Immigration Department

If someone tells you that they’ve got a friend or a contact working inside the Immigration Department that can make sure your visa gets through, it should be of immediate concern. Such relationships that claim to facilitate priority processing or favourable outcomes are usually false, and even if they’re not, any involvement could find you guilty of committing visa fraud.

5. They advertise a 100% success rate

Anytime a migration agent claims to a have a 100% success rate, or makes any sort of guarantee that your visa will be approved, it’s not a good sign. The Australian migration program is incredibly strict, and every year thousands of applications are refused.  If they’ve never had a client’s application turned down, chances are they are either not being truthful, or have very limited experience in the industry.

6. They do not not display a Registered Migration Agent number

The biggest warning sign that you’re dealing with a bad migration agent or maybe not even a migration agent at all? They don’t display a Registered Migration Agent number. In Australia, all migration agents must register with the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA) each year to be able to provide immigration advice. It also pays to check that the migration agent number belongs to the person registered with the MARA.

Anyone dealing in unregistered practice will not be up-to-date with the latest migration rules and regulations, which means that you could be handing over thousands of dollars for an application that in most circumstances will never be approved.  It is also unlikely that they would hold professional indemnity insurance, just in case something terrible does go wrong.

Our advice?
Ask your agent to see a current registration certificate during your first consultation. It could save you a lot of time, money and heartache in the long run.

*Please note; this information is designed as a guide only.

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