Over the years I’ve seen a number of Iranian born, MARA registered Australian migration agents, scamming their Persian clients.
This article provides a checklist for ensuring migration agents dealing in visa applications to Australia are not misrepresenting their services to their Persian customers.
It’s intended for those seeking a visa to Australia. And it allows future visa applicants to check the qualifications of a migration agent before they pay an agent.
This guide also has the most effective methods to seek compensation from any migration agent who may have deceived a client.
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Australia Iran Migration Agent Scams | About the Author
I first learnt about the scams listed below while dating a Persian girl. She was Iranian born and Australian educated and had sought a visa to remain in Australia for work after graduation. Unfortunately she had engaged the services of a migration agent who had none of the qualifications he claimed.
At the time I worked for the Department of Home Affairs in Australia. I also hold 4 Master Degrees in relevant disciplines. And I have practical experience in Government Investigations.
I advised my partner at the time to engage a lawyer and take legal action against the migration agent. Here’s what you should look for when selecting a migration agent. And when you should consider getting a real lawyer to take legal action against your migration agent.
There are significant amounts of compensation to be had through legal action. You can make large amounts of money while ensuring these migration agents no longer scam customers by following this guide.
Here’s how you should deal with a migration agent if they engage in any of the below activities.
Australia Iran Migration Agents | What is the difference between a migration agent and a lawyer?
In Australia if you want to hire someone to submit your visa application for you they must be a registered migration agent. This is someone who is registered with the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA). And they will have a Migration Agent Registration Number (MARN). That MARN will allow you to search for them on the MARA website.
A registered migration agent is not a lawyer (وکیل). To be a lawyer in Australia a person must complete a law degree at university (LLB or JD). They must then undertake a year long practical legal training after university. Once they have the 3 year university degree and the year long legal training, only then can they apply to be registered as a lawyer.
Each state in Australia has a ‘Legal Society’ that keeps a register of lawyers. These are individuals who have the required qualifications and experience to be admitted to practice as lawyers in Australia. These people are entitled to call themselves a ‘lawyer’ (وکیل) and are registered to practice law.
The Graduate Certificate and Diploma in Australian Migration Law are 6-12 month degrees often completed online. They do not make their holder a lawyer or provide for registration as a lawyer (وکیل).
Form 956 from the Department of Home Affairs (Australia’s Immigration Department) makes this distinction clear. Form 956 is the first form you fill out with the person who will interact with Home Affairs on your behalf.
Notice the form clearly differentiates between a migration agent and a legal practitioner. They are not the same thing. See the form 956 excerpt below and click it to see the full form.
Legal Professional Privilege
Not only are lawyers more highly educated. Lawyers have ‘legal professional privilege’. A migration agent cannot claim legal professional privilege because they are not lawyers.
This means a migration agent cannot keep anything from the Department of Home Affairs. Anything you say or give to a migration agent can be requested by the Department and used against you.
The Department cannot access communications between a client and a real lawyer. If you hire a real lawyer instead of a ‘migration agent’ the Department cannot access your communication with that lawyer. Because your lawyer can claim legal professional privilege.
Australia Iran Migration | How to confirm that a migration agent is registered and if they are a lawyer (وکیل)
If a migration agent tells you that they are a lawyer (وکیل) or advertises themselves as a lawyer (وکیل) here’s how you confirm their qualifications.
Step 1: Search for them on the MARA Website and confirm that they are registered as a migration agent. Go here: https://portal.mara.gov.au/search-the-register-of-migration-agents/
Step 2: Search the law society register in the Australian state that the migration agent is from. If their migration office is in Sydney, search NSW. If their office is in Melbourne, search Victoria.
What to do if you find a migration agent fraudulently claiming to be a lawyer (وکیل)
If a migration agent is calling themselves a lawyer (وکیل) but is not a lawyer (وکیل); or if they are falsely advertising their services as a migration lawyer (وکیل); you should submit a complaint to MARA.
At any point you find a migration agent falsely claiming qualifications or experience that they do not have you should report them. The Migration (Migration Agents Code of Conduct) Regulations 2021 prohibits migration agents from making false claims. That means it’s wrong or illegal for them to mislead you.
Part II, Division 4, s26(1)(a) requires that a migration agent must not make false or misleading statements when promoting their business.
If you have engaged their services and entered into a contract with them because their website says in farsi that they are an ‘official immigration lawyer in Australia’ (‘وکیل رسمی مهاجرت در استرالیا); and you hired them because you believed that they are a lawyer in legal practice then you can be said to have been mislead.
To submit a complaint to MARA:
Step 1: Take screenshots of any advertising where they claim to be a lawyer (وکیل). Create PDF files of any emails they have sent you claiming to be a lawyer (وکیل). Collect every instance where they have claimed or implied that they are a lawyer (وکیل). Also create copies of any invoices if you have paid money to the migration agent.
Step 2: Lodge a complaint about the agent via the MARA website https://www.mara.gov.au. Be sure to upload all of the documents collected in the previous step.
Step 3: This is an additional step for clients who have entered into a contract with a migration agent fraudulently claiming to be a lawyer (وکیل).
In the event you have entered into a contract or paid the individual who is fraudulently claiming to be a lawyer (وکیل) you should take legal action and seek compensation.
Misleading and deceptive conduct is against the law in Australia. And the compensation you can get from an individual fraudulently claiming they are a lawyer can be very large.
Get a real lawyer and take legal action against the individual who is fraudulently claiming to be a lawyer (وکیل). Use the relevant provisions of Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
No Win No Fee lawyers are available. And you may be able to take legal action for compensation without paying fees. Search for No Win No Fee lawyers in the state that the individual is based. For example if the agent is from Sydney, search No Win No Fee lawyers in NSW.
Tip: In Australia, depending on the state or territory you are in, it may be legal to record a conversation with your migration agent without telling them you are recording the conversation. You cannot publish the secret recording or play it for other people. But you can give it to a real lawyer for use in court.
This may be useful if your migration agent is verbally telling you that they are a lawyer. Or if they are engaged in any other fraudulent activities or are making other fraudulent claims.
Iran Australia Migration | Visa Success Rates & Processing Times
All over the internet there is advertising for migration agents claiming ‘high success rates’ or ‘faster processing’ of visa applications.
Fact: The success of your application is not influenced by your migration agent. The Department of Home Affairs will evaluate your application against the same set of criteria that they evaluate all other applicants from your country and visa type.
The migration agent cannot guarantee success. And if the agent claims they can, they are misrepresenting their services and you may have a claim to legal action against that agent.
Fact: A migration agent cannot have your visa processed faster. Your visa is processed in the same order it is entered into the pile with all other visa applicants. Your visa processing cannot be made faster by the migration agent.
The migration agent cannot have your visa processed faster. And if they claim they can have your visa processed faster they are misrepresenting their services. And you may have a claim to legal action against that agent.
Australia Iran Migration | Justice of the Peace (JP) qualifications
I’ve seen many migration agents dealing with Australia Iran Migration using Justice of the Peace (JP) certification to sell their services. Becoming a JP in Australia is as easy as paying a fee and maybe, sometimes, attending a half day course.
I’m a JP (Qual). And I have been a JP (Qual) for over a decade.
A JP can certify documents and that’s about all. Becoming a JP does not make someone a lawyer. They cannot provide legal advice and they cannot provide accredited translation services.
A JP can only certify that a copy of a document is an exact copy of an original. And they can witness signatures and take oaths and affirmations where a client signs a document to say it’s true and correct. Being a JP does not make a migration agent or anyone else special. It does not accord them any special status.
Justice of the peace charging money to certify documents
A JP should not charge for their service. A JP is a community service. And charging to witness signatures or perform the functions of a JP would see an individual stripped of their certification.
If a migration agent tries to charge you to certify documents as a JP you should report the agent. Contact the relevant state they are registered in.
Tip: If your migration agent tries to charge you for services rendered as a JP you should report them to https://www.jp.nsw.gov.au
A migration agent certifying their own customers documents as a justice of the peace
A migration agent registered as a Justice of the Peace (JP) certifying his own clients documents may present a conflict of interest. A JP should not certify documents when there is a real or perceived conflict of interest.
A conflict of interest may be real or perceived where a JP signs documents for a family member or friend. Or for his own paying clients.
As an example you may have a conflict of interest when a migration agents certifies documents for a paying client if
- the migration agent has provided advice to the client; and
- following that migration agents advice a set of documents are necessary; and
- success in the migration application on which the agent has provided advice, rests on those documents the migration agent is now witnessing as a JP.
If a real or perceived conflict of interest occurs, your documents may be thrown out and rejected.
Tip: If you are concerned your migration agent acting as a JP may present a conflict of interest or; if you want assurance your migration agent acting as a JP is abiding by the law, you can ask https://www.jp.nsw.gov.au
Australia Iran Migration | Agents Claiming University Qualifications They Do Not Hold
In Australia all claims to university qualifications can be checked with the university that issued the qualifications. And increasingly via services like ‘MyEquals‘.
If a migration agent claims to hold a university qualification or degree from a particular institution, ask for proof. Ask the migration agent to send you the digitally signed www.myequals.edu.au link to their university qualifications.
If the agent won’t send you the link and they still claim to hold degrees from a university, you can contact that university for proof. Go to the university website and go through the ‘academic verification‘ process.
Further Resources to Verify a Migration Agent
Here are 6 easy to use tools for checking migration agents with whom you may be considering doing business.
If you find your migration agent is not acting in your best interest you can use these tools. Use them to background check the agent and verify any claims the agent has made.
1 – viewdns.info
Use this for ‘WhoIS’ and ‘Reverse WhoIS’ website searches. WhoIS gives you the registrant of a website, contact and IT details. Reverse WhoIs gives you all websites found that link to the individuals name.
2 – infotrackgo.com.au
Use this website for corporate information. All shareholdings, companies, offices, business partners (other shareholders/office holders etc.) and their dates and places of birth will be listed.
3 – www.saiglobal.com
Use this website for titles, registry and property information. It also includes POA’s, settlements and legal documents, caveats on properties and Australia wide property holdings.
4 – Ahrefs backlink checker
Use ahrefs to check each websites backlinks. Is the website really attracting clients and making money? No backlinks = no web traffic = not a real or functional business. If they have no traffic they have limited business and limited clientele.
5 – tineye.com
Reverse image search. Find everywhere on the internet the migration agents picture appears.
6 – www.comcourts.gov.au
Check to see if they’ve had a court appearance. With ComCourts.gov.au you can search their name and their business name to see if they’ve been taken to court before.
In the judgements (list of orders) of any previous court action you can see why that agent was taken to court. And how much they were required to pay the client who took them to court.
Australia Iran Migration Agent Scams | Conclusions
While all clients of a migration agent, or clients of anyone providing Australian migration and education advice, should thoroughly investigate the qualifications of an agent before doing business with them; it is particularly important for those clients from Iran.
From what I’ve seen of migration agents working with clients from Iran; I would absolutely advise anyone from Iran going for a visa to engage the services of a real migration lawyer. I would advise everyone I know to avoid migration agents not registered as lawyers in legal practice in Australia.
Anyone who catches a migration agent engaging in fraudulent activity or making fraudulent claims should report the agent to MARA. If you have paid the migration agent I would suggest taking legal action against the agent immediately.
When taking legal action against a migration agent you should avoid any settlements that preclude a public finding of guilt. If you settle a legal matter with your agent and it gets sealed, you lose the right to show the Department of Home Affairs the case against the agent.
If a legal settlement is sealed the Department will believe you are guilty of whatever the agent has done. And the Department will not pursue the agent. Your visa may then be rejected. And you may be banned from reapplying for an Australian visa up to 10 years.
Bottom line – Avoid any migration agent whose claims you cannot verify 100% in advance of doing business with them. If you are in business with an Australia Iran Migration agent whose claims you know are false or can’t be verified, you should take legal action against that agent immediately.
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