1. This is to give a brief description on the history of Registered Migration Agent.
2. The Immigration Restriction Act 1901 was an Act of the Parliament of Australia which limited immigration to Australia. There is no agent related words in this Act. However, it specifically stated that any person assisting other persons to contravene Act be guilty of an offence under Section 12.
3. The 1901 Act was amended a number of times till 1940. During these periods, there was not any introduction about migration agent.
Immigration Restriction Amendment Act 1905
Immigration Restriction Act 1908
Immigration Restriction Act 1910
Immigration Act 1912
Immigration Act 1920
Immigration Act 1924
Immigration Act 1925
Immigration Act 1930
Immigration Act 1932
Immigration Act 1933
Immigration Act 1935
Immigration Act 1940
4. In the Immigration Act 1948, the definition of Registered agent was first inserted. It means a person registered under section 14H, which stated that the application to register shall be supported by such evidence of the good fame, integrity and character.
5. Immigration Act 1949 had minor amendment of the Immigration Act 1901–1948 without any mention of agent.
6. The original bill was introduced to the House of Representatives on 1 May 1958 by Alick Downer, the Minister for Immigration in the Menzies Government. It replaced the Immigration Restriction Act 1901 and formed the current framework.
7. Clauses 46 of the Explanatory Memorandum, Migration Bill 1958 described “immigration agents” as persons handling immigration applications and passage bookings on behalf of other under Sections 14E to 14N. It provided that persons may not act as immigration agents, for reward, unless registered by the Department. And registration may be granted only to persons who satisfy authorised officers that they are fit and proper persons.
8. The clarification about the concept of migration agent and its detailed changes was brought about by the Migration Amendment Act (No. 3) 1992, which is still in force. The title of “Migration Agent” was introduced the very first time, as well as immigration assistance and immigration legal assistance. The outline of the Explanatory Memorandum (EM No.3 1992) states that Migration agents are identified as persons who provide ‘immigration assistance’. The definition of immigration assistance covers assistance with preparing an application, advising the applicant about the application, preparing for proceedings in relation to the application, and representing the applicant in such proceedings.
9. EM No.3 1992 also states that the central feature of the proposed regime (the Act) is that it will require migration agents to be registered on a Register of Migration Agents to be maintained by the Secretary of the Department of Immigration, Local Government and Ethnic Affairs. The exemption for lawyers is to provide ‘immigration legal assistance’, with the definition of only related to proceedings before a court.
10. The inclusion of lawyers in the regulatory system of the Migration Amendment Act (No. 3) 1992 was challenged in the High Court, but it was unsuccessful.
11.The Migration Amendment (Regulation of Migration Agents) Bill 2019 (Deregulation Bill 2019) enables that legal practitioners are to be regulated only by their law societies and have the rights of giving immigration assistance. Meanwhile, all phrases related to the immigration legal assistance are repealed.