Do I need a Migration Agent or an Immigration Lawyer?

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How can we help?

Moving to a new country (migration) is a life-changing event. Some people will have spent time there on a work or study visa and have made the decision to apply for permanent residency, while others who have successfully migrated already, may wish to be joined by close family. There are potentially enormous considerations that may involve a career change, permanent geographic dislocation from family back home, challenges of adapting to new cultural norms, a new language, and unfamiliar government processes.

Companies looking to sponsor skilled migrants will already have a high business workload, and the last thing they may wish is to spend countless hours dealing with unfamiliar paperwork and requirements.

Regardless of the circumstances, individuals will normally only deal with these processes once, whereas trained professionals deal with such matters all day, every day, and well know the intricacies of this complex and ever evolving legal area.

What help is available?

Professional assistance in navigating the visa application path is in two forms:

  • Migration Agent
  • Immigration Lawyer

While these two terms use different words – migration and immigration – they effectively mean the same thing. Let’s look at each option.

Migration Agent

A Migration Agent is required to complete a Graduate Diploma in Migration Law and Practice. This is a 1 year full-time or 1.5-year part-time course, which can be completed at, for example, University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). The next step is to successfully complete the Migration Agents Capstone Assessment with Legal Training Australia (LTA).

The final requirement is to register with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA) and receive their formal approval, a Migration Agents Registration Number (MARN). By being aware of these requirements, you will know what to ask when ascertaining whether or not someone who purports to be an accredited agent is properly approved.

A Migration Agent can:

  • Provide advice regarding all aspects of visa application.
  • Assist with the completion of applications and the provision of documentation.
  • Make any necessary appeals with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

A Migration Agent is required to respect confidentiality but has no right to ask for professional privilege and must therefore divulge your possibly sensitive information if required to do so.

Immigration Lawyer

An Immigration Lawyer must complete a law degree, including full coverage of all aspects of immigration law, and complete practical training in a law office before being registered with the Legal Admissions Board and the Law Society. To retain their practicing certificate, lawyers are required to complete regular refresher training throughout their careers.

An Immigration Lawyer can provide all the services of an Agent, and also:

  • Make appeals to the Federal Circuit Court and the Supreme Court.
  • Can claim professional privilege – this is virtually sacrosanct, and a lawyer would need to be directed by a court to reveal your privileged information.

Who should I use?

This is a personal decision and will to some extent be influenced by the complexity or otherwise of individual circumstances. Convoluted family matters, previous brushes with the law, complications of overseas financial or business arrangements – indeed, any aspect that causes stress and uncertainty, should all be considered.

While an Immigration Lawyer has no sway that will expedite or influence a visa application, the act of submitting a complete and accurate application will be of enormous importance. Business owners and individuals will be able to get on with what they do best, as they hand the reins to a trained professional who will handle every aspect of a visa sponsorship application.


In the event that you find yourself in need of assistance, please contact the law offices of Owen Hodge Lawyers. At Owen Hodge, we are always happy to assist clients in understanding the full ramifications of any and all of your legal needs. Please feel free to call us at your earliest convenience to schedule a consultation at 1800 770 780.



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