Removal of unrestricted legal practitioners from the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA) regulatory scheme
The Migration Amendment (Regulation of Migration Agents) Act 2020 commenced on 22 March 2021.
The new legislation amends the Migration Act 1958 to enable unrestricted legal practising certificate (ULPC) holders to give immigration assistance in the course of legal practice. This removes dual regulation of ULPC holders, meaning that a lawyer may provide immigration assistance without being a registered migration agent (RMA).
The Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority, Department of Home Affairs, have provided the following information:
The Home Affairs website page https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/help-support/who-can-help-with-your-application has been updated with new tabs to support clients’ understanding of who can provide immigration assistance including a new tab for lawyers. The new tab is titled ‘Using a legal practitioner’. From this page lawyers can download and complete the new form 1548 ‘Application for an Australian Legal Practitioner Number’ (LPN).
Lawyers who are RMAs on 22 March 2021 will be automatically transferred from the OMARA Register to a lawyer database – they will not need to complete form 1548. As of the 22 March 2021, they will need to use the updated Form 956 Appointment of a registered migration agent, legal practitioner or exempt person, for any new clients that that they provide immigration assistance to. Client applications already lodged in ImmiAccount prior to the 22 March 2021 do not require a new Form 956.
Lawyers not on the OMARA Register on 22 March 2021 will need to complete form 1548.
- Until November 21, the form 1548 will ask for a Migration Agents Registration Number (MARN) – lawyers who were previously registered migration agents should provide their former MARNs. They will then need to email the completed form 1548 with a copy of their practising certificates to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Lawyers who intend to commence providing immigration assistance and who have never been registered with the OMARA will also need to complete Form 1548 but leave the question asking for a MARN blank. These lawyers will then email the completed form 1548 with a copy of their practising certificates to email@example.com. They will receive a 7 digit unique identifier number starting with the digits 55 – this identifier number will be used for their ImmiAccount and lodging visa applications until November 2021.
All lawyers after November 2021 will receive their own unique identifier number called the Legal Practitioner Number (LPN).
The unique identifier number is so that Departmental decision makers can identifier who can provide lawful immigration assistance.
For the full information on the changes, please read the Department of Home Affairs ‘FAQs’ Document: FAQs Department of Home Affairs as well as their fact sheet on Giving immigration assistance in Australia
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