Some of the 10 recommendations made by the Committee: a split of the profession into restricted and unrestricted RMA practising certificate holders; that new migration agents ‘be required to complete a period of supervised practice’; ‘establish … the Immigration Assistance Complaints Commissioner’ as a second layer of government regulation
Following lobbying by an association of RMAs against unregistered practice, the Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Migration has just published its Report of the inquiry into efficacy of current regulation of Australian migration and education agents.
It appears the lobbying efforts have backfired, as the recommendations included in the Report turned out to be much more about RMAs than unregistered practice.
The recommendations, if implemented, would make the lives of RMAs much more challenging, as they include, among other things:
- a split of the profession into RMAs who hold restricted and unrestricted RMA practising certificates;
- a requirement that new agents complete a period of supervised practice prior to being granted an unrestricted RMA practising certificate;
- a review into English proficiency requirements for registration (unclear whether it includes repeat registrations);
- peer assessment;
- the establishment of an additional lawyer of government regulation of RMAs by the creation of an authority that can impose sanctions, fines or compensation against RMAs;
- publishing information on pricing arrangements with RMAs.
The report is 120 pages long and the list of recommendations is as follows (emphasis added):
3.70 The Committee recommends that the Australian Government, in consultation with relevant migration agent peak bodies, undertake a review of the current registration requirements for migration agents, having regard to:
- the effectiveness of the current registration requirements;
- technical proficiency through education;
- English proficiency;
- peer assessment;
- issuing of a practicing certificate;
- regulation by legal bodies; and
- changing migration agent nomenclature.
3.114 The Committee recommends that all new migration agents be required to complete a period of supervised practice prior to being granted an unrestricted practice certificate.
3.170 The Committee recommends that the Australian Government amend theMigration Act 1958 to establish a statutory authority, the Immigration Assistance Complaints Commissioner with the following powers:
- resolving complaints about immigration services;
- detecting, deterring, disrupting, investigating and prosecuting unregistered practice;
- imposing sanctions or fines and/or ordering the payment of costs, payment of refund or compensation;
- publishing registered migration agent performance data;
- educating people and immigration business and agents about the best
ways to handle complaints and the issues they raise; and
- providing information to the Minister in relation to any of the Complaints Commissioner’s functions, if requested.
3.225 The Committee recommends that the Immigration Assistance Complaints Commissioner, in consultation with practising registered migration agents, publish information on the pricing arrangements of migration agents.
5.60 The Committee recommends that the Australian Government establish an education agent register which contains information on the performance of education agents operating in Australia and overseas. The register should include information on whether the education agent has been sanctioned, suspended or had their written agreement with an education provider cancelled.
5.99 The Committee recommends amending the National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018 to require registered training organisations verify that education agents meet the following requirements prior to entering into a written agreement with each education agent that formally represents their education services:
- completion of a Government authorised education agent training course;
- obtain a IELTS 7 Academic or TOEFL result of 94;
- undergo a National Police Check with the Australian Federal Police;
- not have had their written agreement cancelled in the past 5 years.
5.102 The Committee recommends amending the National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018 to require registered training organisations to review written agreements with their education agents annually to ensure that education agents complete an appropriate number of professional development activities each year.
5.113 The Committee recommends that the Australian Government introduce a sanction structure using a demerit point system for any education agent found to have breached the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000, National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018, or Migration Act 1958.
6.46 The Committee recommends that Electronic Travel Authority (subclass 601) visa holders that lodge a valid protection visa application have their application fast-tracked by the Department of Home Affairs.
6.47 The Committee recommends the Migration Act 1958 be amended to grant the Immigration Assessment Authority the power to review fast tracked valid protection visa applications lodged by Electronic Travel Authority visa holders.
Disclaimer: the above is a mere extract of a report. The views there expressed might not reflect the views of the Department, the AAT or the courts. The law or policies might have changed between the writing and reading of this article. The author of this article and Migration Law Updates disclaim any liability for any action (or omission) on their part based on any information provided (or not provided) in this article and are under no obligation to keep the general public nor practitioners informed about the matters discussed in this article or any other matters, or any future changes to any of those matters. It is the responsibility of each practitioner to obtain access to primary sources of law and policy by themselves and to carry out their own research and come to their own conclusions on legislation, case law, policies and more. This article is not intended for the general public.