International Education is Australia’s biggest export, supporting more than 250,000 jobs across the country. If you are considering a career in the migration industry or as a registered migration agent, you need to know the MARA Code of Conduct set by the Australian Government.
What is MARA?
MARA or Migration Agents Registration Authority is one of the authorities of the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Patrol. Officially, the name stands for OMARA, The Office of Migration Agents Registration Authority which registers and regulates the migration agents. It monitors the consumers of migration agent businesses and makes sure to register only those who comply with the qualification and standards.
To operate as a migration agent in Australia, you must be registered with the OMARA as per the legal requirement under the Migration Act 1958.
What is the Code of Conduct?
The MARA code of conduct aims to monitor the conduct of the registered migration business agents and professionals. It includes clear guidelines about what you can expect from a migration agent and what obligations they have to adhere to.
1. Standards of Professional Conduct
Firstly, a registered migration agent should not accept a client that poses a conflict of interest. The conflict of interest promoted at any given time should be dealt with by communication. This can be communicated with the client or referral to the other agent or cease the deal.
To adhere to the code, agents should be professional at all times. The agent must ensure the assistance and information provided are accurate. The agent should also respect the client’s dependency on the agent.
Furthermore, the agent should not hold out unrealistic prospects of success to the clients and engage in misleading or false advertisements.
2. Obligations to Clients
The agent should duly maintain the confidentiality of the clients. Prior to starting the work, the agent should provide the client with a copy of the consumer guide and make a record a copy has been provided.
The address and telephone number of the agent should be available to the client to contact during the business hours. In case of the change in the address or number, the Authority should be informed 14 days in prior. Additionally, a registered migration agent must ensure that clients have access to an interpreter if necessary.
3. Relations between Registered Migration Agents
In case if an agent is not sure about the advice or assistance, they should seek help from or refer to another registered migration agent. However, a registered migration agent should not take over without a written notice by the other agent from the client.
4. Fees and Charges
There are no standard fees for the agents to charge but the fees of assistance should be of a reasonable cost. The agent should not unnecessarily increase the cost in any manner nor should charge reward without a statement of services in the Agreement for Services and Fees.
5. Record Keeping and Management
The registered migration agent needs to manage a proper record that should be readily available for inspection on request by the authority. The record should contain files including the client’s application details, written communication among agents, clients and authority, and even oral communication notes. A registered migration agent must keep records 7 years after the date of the last action on the file for the client.
6. Financial Duties
The registered migration agent is responsible to keep a record of all the financial transactions and operating expenses between the agent and the client by creating separate accounts. The records must be available to the authority for inspection whenever requested.
7. Duties of Registered Migration Agents to Employees
It is the duty of a registered migration agent to supervise and assist the other staffs for the agent. Furthermore, employees of the agent must be aware of the code. For example, this includes those who are not directly involved in client servicing.
Additionally, Staff employed under the agent must practise good character and adhere to the Code.
Complaints regarding the agent’s works or services by the Authority or any person, including a client, must be dealt with. Thus, the agent must respond properly to the complaint.
9. Termination of Services
A registered migration agent is entitled to complete all the services unless both parties agree to terminate. For example, for termination, a written notice is necessary to be forwarded to the client. So, within 7 days of the written notice, the agent should submit all the documents and ensure that the financial matters have been sorted out.
The documents of the clients including passports should not be withheld by the agent. Furthermore, if the clients ask for any other documents, the agent should duly provide the client’s belongings.
10. Client Awareness of the Code
Lastly, it is the duty of the registered migration agent to ensure that the client is well aware of the code of conduct. The code of conduct must be readily available to the client at the workplace of the agent or must be provided with the link copy through the internet.
If you intend or work in the migration consultancy industry, you are subjected to the MARA code of conduct. Thus, The MARA code of conduct aims to increase ethical practice and transparency in the migration industry. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the code if you are looking to become a registered migration agent.