Parliamentary Committee To Hold Inquiries Into Migration Agents And Reviews Of Visa Cancellations

Tuesday 20 March 2018 @ 10.49 a.m. | Legal Research | Immigration

The Federal Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Migration (“the Committee”) announced two new inquiries last week.  Assistant Minister for Home Affairs, Alex Hawke, has asked the Committee to inquire into the efficacy of current regulation of Australian migration agents.  Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, has asked the Committee to inquire into the review processes associated with visa cancellations made on criminal grounds.  Both inquiries were announced on Wednesday 14 March, and are accepting written submissions from the public.  Submissions to both inquiries close on Friday 27 April 2018.

Inquiry into regulation of migration agents

Committee Chair Jason Wood said in a media release:

“Migration agents play an essential role in Australia’s migration programs assisting business, skilled and student migrants and their families with their visa application. Unregistered or unlawful migration agents can not only damage the credibility of our visa regime but also significantly impact on the lives of visa applicants and their families.”

The terms of reference for the inquiry are:

“… [to] inquire into the efficacy of current regulation of Australian migration agents. In conducting its inquiry, the Committee shall have particular regard to:

  • Examining the registration and regulation of migration agents in Australia including: education, English proficiency, payment, fee-scheduling as well as the suitability and stringency of the accreditation process and evidence of deficiencies.
  • The nature and prevalence of fraud, professional misconduct and other breaches by registered migration agents, the current review mechanisms for migration agents and the adequacy of penalties.
  • Deficiencies and barriers to relevant authorities' investigation of fraudulent behaviour by registered migration agents in visa applications, including the adequacy of information and evidence sharing between such authorities.
  • Evidence of the volumes and patterns of unregistered migration agents and education agents providing unlawful immigration services in Australia.
  • Reviewing the appropriateness of migration agents providing other services to clients.

The Joint Standing Committee on Migration shall also separately examine integrity issues associated with the Electronic Travel Authority (subclass 601) visa. The Committee shall have particular regard to evidence of visa cancellation rates, non-compliance with 'no work' conditions, and other integrity concerns.”

According to the inquiry homepage, this inquiry is expected to include public hearings as well as consideration of written submissions.

Inquiry into review processes for visa cancellations on criminal grounds

In a separate media release, Mr Wood said:

“The Committee will examine whether the visa cancellation process and review mechanisms are open to exploitation from individuals who are actively trying to circumvent Australia’s migration system.”

The terms of reference for the inquiry are:

“… [to] examine the review processes associated with visa cancellations made on criminal grounds. In conducting its inquiry, the Committee shall have particular regard to:

  • The efficiency of existing review processes as they relate to decisions made under section 501 of the Migration Act.
  • Present levels of duplication associated with the merits review process.
  • The scope of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal's jurisdiction to review ministerial decisions.”

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