02 December 2010
Conviction a timely reminder for Australian Visa applicants
The recent conviction of a man in Sydney has been called a timely reminder by the Australian Government for migrants to ensure they enlist the help of only registered migration agents.
Mohamed Maarbani appeared at Sydney District Court on November 26 after pleading guilty to two offences involving falsely taking money to represent people in migration matters at times when he was not a registered migration agent.
The court handed down a two-year custodial sentence, which was suspended immediately on payment of a recognisance. Mr Maarbani was also ordered to repay $2500 of fees to his victims.
“The unlawful provision of immigration assistance by unregistered people affects the lives of consumers, challenges the integrity of Australia’s migration program and unfairly brings the reputation of more than 4000 registered migration agents into disrepute,” an Australian immigration departmental spokesman said.
The Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (Office of the MARA) was formed in 2009 to maintain confidence in registered agents and its CEO, Christine Sykes, believes this is paramount.
“Such unlawful behaviour can adversely affect the lives of our clients and challenges the integrity of Australia’s visa program.
“As migration decisions are life-changing and involve considerable financial and emotional investments on behalf of prospective migrants, it is important clients have confidence in the professionalism and integrity of their migration agent,” Ms Sykes said.
The law requires that migration agents operating in Australia be registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority and agents registered with The Office of the MARA operate under a strict Code of Conduct.
The senior members of the Australian Visa Bureau migration casework department are registered with MARA, which authorises them to provide Australian visa and immigration advice to potential migrants.
The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people lodge their Australian immigration application with the Australian Embassy.