Conduct of the Inquiry
On Wednesday, 14 March 2018 the Hon Alex Hawke MP, the then Assistant Minister for Home Affairs asked the Committee to inquire into and report on the efficacy of current regulation of Australian migration agents. The terms of reference of the inquiry were to have particular regard to:
examining the registration and regulation of migration agents in Australia including: education, English proficiency, payment, fee-scheduling as well as the suitability and stringency of the accreditation process and evidence of deficiencies;
the nature and prevalence of fraud, professional misconduct and other breaches by registered migration agents, the current review mechanisms for migration agents and the adequacy of penalties;
deficiencies and barriers to relevant authorities' investigation of fraudulent behaviour by registered migration agents in visa applications, including the adequacy of information and evidence sharing between such authorities;
evidence of the volumes and patterns of unregistered migration agents and education agents providing unlawful immigration services in Australia; and
reviewing the appropriateness of migration agents providing other services to clients.
The Committee shall separately examine integrity issues associated with the Electronic Travel Authority (subclass 601) visa. The Committee shall have particular regard to evidence of visa cancellation rates, non-compliance with 'no work' conditions, and other integrity concerns.
Structure of the report
The Committee’s report is structured around the terms of reference. This introductory chapter provides an outline of the conduct of the inquiry.
Chapter 2 provides a background on the regulation of Registered Migration Agents (RMAs), the role of the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority and statistics on the number of RMAs currently operating in Australia, their experience and the outcomes of complaints.
Chapter 3 outlines submitters’ perceptions of registered migration agents, and examines the registration requirements of RMAs, the volumes and patterns of unregistered migration agents and education agents providing unlawful immigration services, the powers of the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA), and migration agents providing other services to clients.
A background on the regulation of education agents and an examination of their operation both in Australia and overseas is Chapters 4 and 5 respectively.
Chapter 6 considers integrity issues associated with the Electronic Travel Authority visa.
The Committee invited an array of stakeholders, groups and individuals to submit to the inquiry, including relevant federal government departments, peak bodies, academics and industry groups.
The Committee received 41 submissions from a range of federal government departments, refugee and asylum seeker peak bodies, migration lawyers and agents, providers of education services for international students, education agents, and concerned citizens. The Committee took evidence from fifteen organisations and individuals at six public hearings held in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne over the course of the inquiry.