Last updated 20 May 2020
All agents practising in migration law must be registered as migration agents with the Office of Migration Agents Regulation Authority. Lawyers who are not registered as migration agents cannot give immigration assistance (s 276 Migration Act 1958 (Cth) (Migration Act)).
If a lawyer who is not a registered migration agent provides immigration assistance, that lawyer commits an offence under s 280 of the Migration Act. Currently the penalty for this offence is $10 800. This is a strict liability offence.
A lawyer can give immigration legal assistance. This relates to advice and representation to a visa applicant or cancellation review applicant regarding proceedings before a court. Advice regarding visa applications and merits review are not immigration legal assistance (s 277 Migration Act).
A Bill is before parliament to end dual regulation for lawyers, which, if passed, will mean that lawyers will not have to register as migration agents and will be entirely regulated by their own professional bodies. The Queensland Law Society has a list of accredited specialists in immigration law. These solicitors (as well as being registered migration agents) must have at least five years experience in the practice of the law (with three years substantial experience in immigration matters) and must pass the Queensland Law Society examination that tests their knowledge of immigration law.