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Go after unregistered migration advisers, MIA’s Ms Chan said

The Migration Institute of Australia (MIA), the peak professional organisation for registered migration agents in Australia, believes that the reports in today’s media of migration fraud raise serious concerns about the level of funding governments provide to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP), particularly in dealing with unregistered migration advice.

“Unregistered migration advice is illegal but still continues in Australia, and the Department must be given more resources to deal with this unacceptable behaviour,” said the National President of the MIA, Ms Angela Chan FMIA.

Unregistered practice is both a risk for vulnerable innocent people and a risk to Australia’s national security, and it can only be properly tackled by greater resources being given to the Department.

Ms Chan said that while the media reports contained references to out-of-date information, it did draw attention to the amount of possible fraud and to the Department’s lack of resources for dealing with it.

The MIA notes that the figures in today’s reports often refer to visa applications and not to visa grants. Many visa applications are refused after fraud has been identified because of improvements the Department has made to its ability to control identity fraud with biometric (including DNA) testing and legislation with heavy penalties for document and identity fraud.

“Unfortunately, the Department’s resources do not seem to allow to it properly deal with all of its main functions: dealing with fraud; processing very large numbers of visa applications; dealing with irregular maritime arrivals and controlling unregistered migration practice.

“Each of these functions is vital to Australia’s security and economy, and the Department should not be placed in the position of having to juggle resources. There has to be a rethink about the level of funding for the Department, and the allocation of that funding,” said Ms Chan.

The MIA believes that part of this rethink should be a reconsideration of the role of the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA). The MIA has recommended to the Government’s current enquiry into the OMARA that the OMARA should be an independent body whose only functions should be to discipline registered migration agents and to control unregistered migration practice.