Immigration Lawyers vs Migration Agents

Immigration Lawyers vs Migration Agents

Published on 10 August 2021
Last updated on 7 March 2024

Whether you are entering Australia to study, work or sightsee, obtaining an Australian visa will be your top priority! You may choose to either submit your own DIY application or entrust this to a professional.

Generally, consulting a professional will make your visa application smoother, as you will be able to avoid common mistakes allowing you to increase your chances of receiving a successful outcome.

What do we mean by “professional”? In Australia, professionals that may assist you in migration related services include Australian registered migration agents and immigration lawyers. As the decision to migrate is not only costly but life-changing, you should make an informed decision when choosing who to entrust your visa application to.

So what is the distinction between migration agent and immigration lawyer? Who should I engage?

Whether you are choosing to go with a migration agent or an immigration lawyer, you should ensure that the migration agent is registered with the Office of Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA) and your immigration lawyer is admitted to the Legal Admission Board (LAB) in the relevant state. By choosing the professionals who are registered with OMARA or LAB, you are sure to be working with someone that is qualified.

We list the 5 key differences between migration agent and immigration lawyer below to help you decide on the type of professional you should engage:


1. Higher qualification requirement for immigration lawyers

Migration Agent Immigration Lawyer
1. Complete a 6-month training course and successfully pass exams 1. Complete at least one Bachelor of Laws degree (minimum 3-year qualification)
2. Register with OMARA 2. Complete Practical Legal Training (‘PLT’) and gain work experience
3. Be admitted to the Supreme Court of a relevant state as a lawyer
4. Apply to the Legal Admissions Board (‘LAB’) of the relevant state to obtain a Practising Certificate
5. Register with OMARA (for lawyers with restricted practicing certificate)


2. Immigration lawyers can provide a wider range of services


Migration Agent Immigration Lawyer
Assist you in visa application Assist you in visa application
Appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) in relation to visa cancellation or refusal Appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) in relation to visa cancellation or refusal
Appeal to Federal Circuit Courts of Australia
Request for ministerial intervention
Provide you with full legal representation in the courts
Provide you advice on other legal matters relating to immigration issues

Apart from the above mentioned, lawyers can provide you with other legal advice such as family law, corporate and commercial law, allowing you to create and arrange a well-rounded immigration plan.


3. Only lawyers can claim Legal Professional Privilege


Migration Agent Immigration Lawyer
Duty of confidentiality to the client Ability to exercise legal professional privilege
If required, migration agents must provide all your information to relevant authorities. When you are under investigation or prosecuted, your migration lawyer may exercise legal professional privilege to protect all of your documents and information from being disclosed.
Immigration lawyers will only disclose client details in exceptional circumstances.


4.Tougher regulation for immigration lawyers, thus more security


Migration Agent Immigration Lawyer
1. OMARA code of conduct 1. OMARA code of conduct
2. Legal Profession Act
3. Australian Solicitors Conduct Rules
4. Law Society Ethical and Practice Guidelines


5. Immigration lawyers have a better understanding of the law and are trained to apply the law

Migration law is an extremely complexed area in which the complex legislative and regulatory requirements governing the immigration framework are ever changing. Migration law operates against a wide range of legislation, extensive policy guidelines, parliamentary directives, as well as over a hundred visa categories.

There is no doubt that immigration lawyers have a more comprehensive, well-rounded and profound understanding of the Australian legal and migration system. Only such a professional with strong knowledge base and ability will be able to solve any difficulties you may face with your visa. This is unmatched by migration agents.

To sum up, if you are interested in immigration to Australia and are still deciding whether it is best to engage a migration agent or immigration lawyer, the immigration lawyers at Ascent Lawyers is your first choice. We will provide you with comprehensive legal advice tailored to you and advise you of common issues related to the immigration process.

Visa and immigration matters have a direct impact to your life. Choosing a qualified and experienced immigration lawyer is the way to go.

Disclaimer: Ascent Lawyers owns all copyright in the text. This article is of a general nature and should not be regarded as legal advice or relied on for assistance in any particular circumstance or emergency situation. To obtain legal advice in relation to your own circumstances, please contact us for consultation.

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