From today, 22 March, unrestricted legal practitioners are no longer able to register as migration agents and will instead be solely regulated by their own professional bodies.
The Migration Amendment (Regulation of Migration Agents) Act 2020 (Cth) was passed on 15 June 2020 and received royal assent on 22 June 2020. The Act amends the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) by removing legal practitioners with unrestricted practising certificates from the regulatory scheme that governs migration agents.
This effectively gives legal practitioners with unrestricted practising certificates the ability to provide immigration assistance and advice without the need for registration with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA). The amendments are designed to reduce the inefficiencies and costs associated with dual regulation.
For legal practitioners who provide migration services, the amendments have a number of practical consequences including:
- To provide legal migration services, lawyers will need to hold a principal practising certificate, a barrister’s practising certificate or an employee practising certificate while working for a law practice.
- Lawyers who wish to continue working as registered migration agents will be required to surrender their practising certificate and accordingly will not be able to engage in the provision of legal services.
- Transitional arrangements will apply to registered migration agents who hold a practising certificate subject to the supervised legal practice condition. These transitional arrangements enable affected persons to maintain dual registration temporarily while they complete their supervised legal practice.