migration agent and immigration lawyer

Have you always thought that a Migration Agent and Immigration Lawyer are the same? 

Making the decision to migrate is both a costly, stressful and life-changing experience. Your next decision would be whether to engage a professional to assist you in the process or to handle the application yourself. If you have decided to engage a professional then you would want to make sure that you choose one who is qualified and currently registered. We will go through with you how to make this decision. 

Key Differences between a migration agent and immigration lawyer

On 22 March 2021, deregulation of immigration lawyers occurred. Deregulation means Australian lawyers offering immigration assistance no longer have to hold dual registration.

In the past, this often created duplication of registration fees and public confusion on the differences between a migration agent and immigration lawyer. 

Key PointMigration AgentImmigration Lawyer 
Registration Body 

Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA)

They can be recognised by a registered MARN and you can search for them on the OMARA Portal. 

Legal Professions Admission Board (LPAB) 

They can be recognised with a Legal Practitioners Number beginning with 55. 

Can they provide legal assistance?



QualificationsThey complete a 1 year Graduate Diploma in Australian Migration Law and Practice and need to pass a Capstone assessment.

They must have a relevant Bachelor or Masters degree in law and complete Practical Legal Training. 

They must then also be admitted as a lawyer at the Supreme Court. Thereafter, they need to maintain an annual  practising certificate.  

Legal Professional Priviliege

Not available. 

Therefore, must disclose client information and documents to authorities if requested by law


Can claim legal professional privilege which protects from disclosure of confidential documents between client and lawyer. 


Can only assist with visa applications and some merits review applications to Administrative Appeals Tribunal. 

Cannot represent appeal in front of other courts. 

Can assist with all types of appeals. 

Do I need professional help?

It is perfectly fine to handle the entire visa application yourself. In fact, many individuals choose to do so. However, consulting professionals before you begin is always advisable so that they can guide you through the process and you have the opportunity to ask questions before you get started. 

In our experience, we have seen far too many cases where the client decides to embark on this journey alone but realises too late that one step was done incorrectly. This results in wasted time and additional costs as we have to restart the entire process for them. For a majority of the legal requirements, they are “time of application” requirements meaning once the application is lodged it is too late to fix after it has been submitted.

What are the statistics of using a migration agent and immigration lawyer?

In the most recent Migration Agent Activity Report half-yearly report it shows that on average over 60% of individuals choose to engage either a professional migration agent or immigration lawyer to assist them with their permanent visa application. This includes partner visa, other family visas, work visa, business or investment visa etc. On the other hand, most people choose not to engage professional assistance for temporary visas such as visitor visa, student visa etc. 

The stakes are high for permanent migration and you want to make sure you get it right the first time. Once an application is refused, the refusal record will stay permanently and can affect future applications. Appeals are also usually costly. Refunds are also rarely available and with the expensive costs of permanent visa application charges it is important to lodge a perfect application. 

Summary of the benefits engaging professional help

  • COST-EFFECTIVE – a good migration agent and immigration lawyer will be able to strategise the most cost-effective and fastest way for your migration to Australia. They should also be able to maximise your chances of success on the first application.
  • REDUCES STRESS – if you engage a migration agent and immigration lawyer it should alleviate you of a lot of stress. Once you prepare all the documents they request, they should be able to handle the entire process for you including responding to any of the Department’s additional requests.
  • ENSURE ALL LEGAL REQUIREMENTS ARE MET migration law can be quite tricky and demanding. Often procedures must be done in a certain way for applications to be valid and for certain legal requirements to be met. A migration agent and immigration lawyer will be able to advise you of the steps to take.
  • EXPERIENCE an experienced migration agent and immigration lawyer will be very familiar with the entire process and common refusal reasons. This means they can ensure that you do not make the same mistake that other people do. 

Additionally, a lawyer often has experience or understanding of the law in other areas. Many visas actually involve different areas of laws. For example, partner or other family visas will often require an understanding in family law and relationships whilst business visas will require an understanding in commercial/corporate law. Knowing this will help you to decide whether to obtain professional help from an immigration lawyer or migration agent. 

Even if you have not decided whether you want to embark on this journey alone or would like professional help, it is always best practice to have an initial consultation so you can get the foundational understanding correct. The consultation will ensure that you are going in the right direction. 

Click here to book in a consultation with one of our lawyers today: BOOK A CONSULTATION 

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