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Difference Between Agents & Lawyers

Migrate to Australia

Difference Between Agents and Lawyers

It is common for individuals to come across two different entities to assist in visa application and Australian immigration services – immigration agents and immigration lawyers. Although often used interchangeably, there are various important differences between the two. Migration is a complex and stressful process; therefore, individuals must have the right intermediary to take them through their visa application process and achieve a positive outcome. A few significant differences exist between Australian immigration agents and lawyers, as mentioned below.

Firstly, there is a significant difference in the training, education, and qualification levels undertaken by immigration lawyers and agents. In Australia, immigration agents are required to register with MARA – the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority. While an immigration agent only needs to complete a diploma or 12-month certificate and a code of conduct to get registration, an immigration lawyer undergoes a 4-year bachelor’s degree in law, practical legal training, admission to the legal profession before the Supreme Court, and must also obtain their legal practising certificate from a relevant law society. This legal practising certificate must be renewed annually by gaining at least 10 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points. Migration lawyers also receive training in statutory interpretation, legal research and communication, administrative law, and civil processes. The complexity of this legal training provides migration lawyers with a significantly more advanced and complete skill set that will be used to handle various complex cases with much more ease.

Secondly, the scope of services and legal representation of immigration agents and lawyers is distinct. Since agents are not qualified lawyers, they will not have the authority or the expertise to assist with legal representation or other matters in court. Their scope is mainly limited to administrative processes. On the other hand, immigration lawyers are more equipped to identify different areas of immigration law and Australian law. They can assist with an individual’s case in more depth. In addition, they will also be able to provide strong legal representation in court to appeal or justify a case.

Thirdly, immigration agents have little scope to provide legal advice to applicants. Agents may only be authorised to give the correct legal advice if things go right at any stage with the application or documentation. However, immigration lawyers have the authority, expertise, and experience to provide accurate and in-depth legal advice on a broader range of application issues owing to their intense training and legal qualifications.

Finally, cost is quite an essential factor too. The services provided by immigration agents may be more cost-effective as their specialisation is also quite limited. Immigration lawyers offer broader legal services and have more expertise and authority in Australian immigration matters. Therefore, keeping the diverse range of legal services and assistance that immigration lawyers provide in mind, their service costs are more expensive.

Here is a table of differences between immigration agents and lawyers:

Immigration Agents Immigration Lawyers
Qualification Have a 12-24 month certificate or Diploma in Australian Migration Law. Complete a Law Degree and Practical Legal Training.
Registration Registered with OMARA. Registered with the Legal Admissions Board & the Law Society.
Scope of Services There needs to be more scope for providing legal advice or representation in court. Have the authority and expertise to provide legal advice and court representation, protect client documentation confidentiality, and more.
FBP International has a team of highly qualified in-house Australian legal practitioners who provide end-to-end assistance with visa application, immigration, and settlement services in Australia. With over 50 years of cumulative experience, FBP International is known as the best Australian Migration Settlement Experts.