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Overview of the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority

The Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA) regulates the activities of the Australian migration advice profession. This provides consumers of immigration assistance with appropriate protection and assurance.

In accordance with section 322 of the Migration Act 1958 (Migration Act), OMARA is required to submit a report to the Parliament on the administration of Part 3 of the Migration Act during the financial year.

Information about registered migration agents

Overview of the profession

As at 30 June 2020, 7132 people were registered in Australia as registered migration agents. This compares with 7252 on 30 June 2019 and represents a 2 per cent decrease.

Profile of registered migration agents:

  • The average age of agents is 45 years
  • 48 per cent female and 52 per cent male
  • 2289 (32 per cent) of the total number of registered migration agents hold a legal practising certificate
  • 72 per cent have never had a complaint made against them
  • 39 per cent report operating in a business as a sole trader.

Table 46 – Experience of registered migration agents, at 30 June 2020

Experience (years)


Per cent (of total agents)

< 1



1 – 3



4 – 6



7 – 9



> 10






Note: percentage results may not add to 100 per cent due to rounding.

Registration refusals and withdrawals

During 2019–20, nine registration applications were refused and 23 were withdrawn. Of these:

  • nine repeat registration applications were refused - four based on fitness and propriety considerations, two as a result of the formerly registered migration agent being barred from re-registration, two as a result of the agent’s current registration being cancelled, and one failed to meet residency requirements
  • 23 applications were withdrawn in anticipation of the application being refused, with the reasons including not meeting the requirements for non-commercial registration, fitness and propriety considerations, registration suspension or cancellation and not meeting the residency or qualification requirements.

No initial applications were refused because the applicants were unable to meet registration requirements.

Compared to 2018–19, there were less applications refused (nine compared with 13) and less applications withdrawn (23 compared with 40). In 2018–19, the leading reason for withdrawals (20 of 40) was failure to meet English language requirements however in 2019–20 there were no withdrawals or refusals for this reason. This can be attributed to the introduction of higher technical proficiency requirements to register as a migration agent.

During 2019–20 there was a marked reduction in initial applications submitted by non-legal practising certificate (PC) holders. This can be attributed to more stringent entry requirements for non-PC holders, including the Capstone exam:

  • Of 446 initial applications submitted, 386 (87 per cent) were submitted by applicants holding practising certificates.
  • In 2018–19, of 637 initial applications submitted, 321 (50 per cent) were submitted by applicants holding practising certificates.

Complaint processing

The OMARA received 538 complaints during 2019–20 and finalised 506 complaints. Merit and jurisdiction were established for 182 complaints. Of these, 133 were finalised with a finding that the agent had breached the Code of Conduct.

Sanction outcomes

The OMARA sanctioned 24 registered migration agents, the subject of 54 complaints. Of those sanctioned, 11 registered migration agents had their registration cancelled, nine had their registration suspended and one was cautioned. The OMARA also barred three former agents from being registered for five years.

OMARA review

The OMARA continues to implement two remaining recommendations from the 2014 Independent review of the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (Kendall Review):

  • Removal of lawyers from the regulatory scheme: Legislation to remove certain Australian Legal Practitioners from the OMARA regulatory scheme received royal assent on 22 June 2020 and will commence within nine months on a date yet to be determined.
  • Review of the Code of Conduct for Registered Migration Agents (the Code): The OMARA finalised its review into the Code, which included an extensive round of stakeholder consultation. The review of the Code has been forwarded to the Office of Parliamentary Council for legislative drafting. Implementation of a new Code is expected in the 2020–21 program year.