Do “unregistered migration agents” exist?

“Unregistered migration agent”

This is a term that’s been getting around in the media lately as they’ve caught a few dodgy characters breaking the law and giving unqualified migration advice. In Australia this is against the law, and rightly so.


Registered Migration Agents (RMA’s) in Australia have to go through a fairly exhausting process to ensure that only suitable people are able to legally advise you and represent you. To be registered, an RMA needs:

  • A Degree, and post-graduate qualifications in Australian Migration Law and Practice
  • A high level of English language skills
  • Professional Indemnity insurance
  • An Australian Federal Police clearance
  • A professional library of current Migration Law, which must be maintained
  • To maintain current knowledge through attending yearly Continued Professional Development studies
  • To practice according to a Code of Conduct which is written into law

We also risk sanctions and cancellation of our Registration if we behave improperly and in breach of the Code of Conduct.

If I put up a sign tomorrow and said I was a doctor, no one would call me an “unregistered medical practitioner”. And the real doctor next door wouldn’t be very impressed with me calling myself basically the same thing as him. It would be really offensive. In the same way it’s not right to see charlatans and scammers referred to as “unregistered migration agents”. A practitioner is either a REGISTERED Migration Agent, or they are something entirely different.

Do you need to be a Registered Migration Agent to give migration advice in Philippines?

No, unfortunately. Australian Law has no jurisdiction in other countries, so any opportunist here can cash in and become a “visa expert”. We hear from clients all the time who have been taken advantage of by these people, usually because they were in a mall in Cebu City or somewhere “convenient”.

It becomes fairly inconvenient when the application is refused due to incompetence in handling, or where it’s never submitted in the first place. If you also face a 3 year ban due to wrong information being submitted, even worse.

Jeff Harvie from Down Under Visa IS a Registered Migration Agent, and will continue to be one despite being based in Manila, Philippines. My Registration details can be found on the Migration Agents Registration Authority website. If you would like our help, please go to

Slow visa application processing
Filipina lady on a tourist visa. Problems at the airport?