Employment and Migration Blog

What is the difference between a registered migration agent and an immigration lawyer? 

Posted by Lisa Qiu on 18 May 2017

Chances are that unless you deal with registered migration agents (RMA) and immigration lawyers on a regular basis, you do not know what the difference is between the two. 

What are the differences?

Only RMAs can legally give immigration assistance in Australia. An immigration lawyer may be an RMA, or not. Immigration lawyers who aren’t RMAs can’t give some forms of immigration assistance. ”Immigration assistance” involves assisting with visa applications or other visa matters including:

  • preparing, or helping to prepare, a visa, nomination or sponsorship application; and,
  • advising a visa applicant or sponsor about a visa or sponsorship application or visa matter.

Immigration lawyers who aren’t RMAs can be involved in and appear in court, and review proceedings involving visa issues. They can’t advise on or prepare visa applications.

So, if you want advice about what type of visa you need to apply for, help in preparing a visa application, and legal advice about potential issues that could arise along the way (such as refusals or cancellations), your best option is to engage the services of  an immigration lawyer who is also a RMA. 

What’s the advantage in using an immigration lawyer who is an RMA?

The main difference between an RMA, and an immigration lawyer who is also an RMA, is the level of qualification and study undertaken. An immigration lawyer holds a law degree as well as registration as an RMA, while a RMA does not have a law degree. This means that an immigration lawyer has broader training and experience in dealing with the interpretation of law and cases, and will be able to provide legal advice that an RMA can’t. 

Who to contact:

If you need immigration assistance, I am a RMA (MARN 1681285), immigration and employment lawyer. Practising both immigration and employment law, I can provide advice in relation to unique issues that arise in the employment context, for those working on visas. As a RMA, I can also assist with the visa application process: