On 8 May, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection made public the 2014 Independent Review of the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority.
The review was conducted between June and September 2014 by Dr Christopher N. Kendall, who was appointed by the Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash for the job.
The reviewer made several recommendations to improve the integrity of the migration agents’ regulatory scheme and consequently improve consumer outcomes.
Here’s a brief look at the key measures to be implemented:
1. Removal of lawyers from the migration agents' regulatory scheme
Lawyers who provide immigration assistance will no longer be required to register with the OMARA. This measure will remove the administrative burden requiring lawyers to register with two regulatory bodies. Minister Cash said, “Lawyers are already subject to one of the strictest regulatory regimes of any profession.”
2. Strengthening the training and entry qualifications for new entrants into the migration agent profession
This will ensure that they (new entrants) are of an appropriate standard, without being unduly prescriptive or inflexible; and to protect socially and legally vulnerable clients, many of whom come from non-English speaking backgrounds.
3. Reviewing the re-registration process for migration agents
This will help streamline procedures, including considering opportunities to reduce the regulatory burden for those agents who have a proven record of 'good standing'.
4. Improving the management of CPD courses
The framework will be reviewed with a view to creating a more competitive market for the provision of CPD. The role of the Office of MARA will reduce to that of monitoring the registration and eligibility of providers. This measure will provide greater flexibility to providers of CPD to manage the delivery of their courses.
5. Consolidation of the Office of MARA into DIBP
This will improve information-sharing with the Department and provide consumers with timely, effective outcomes which are essential to maintaining consumer protection and public confidence in the integrity of Australia's migration programme.
6. Reviewing the scope and content of the Code of Conduct
The Migration Agents' Code of Conduct will be reviewed to ensure that the required standards of professional conduct are clearly articulated.