The end of dual regulation for Immigration Lawyers

Posted on March 23, 2021 by Benson Shi

In recognition of the fact that lawyers admitted to practice are sufficiently well versed to give legal immigration assistance and that the legal profession in Australia is well regulated in itself, on the 22 March 2021 the migration advice industry was de-regulated to enable all lawyers who hold an unrestricted Australian Legal Practising Certificate (APLC) to give immigration assistance without being registered as a Registered Migration Agent with OMARA.

As provided by s 276 of the Migration Act 1958, ‘immigration assistance’ is when a person uses experience in migration procedure to assist a visa applicant, a sponsor, a nominator, or a cancellation review applicant through preparing their application or proceedings, advising them, or representing them in relation to their matter before a review authority such as the DOHA, AAT, or the Minister.

The main changes that consumers will see for law practises specializing in Immigration Law is the replacement of the legal practitioner’s Migration Agents Registration Number (MARN) with their Australian Practising Certificate (ALPC) number, and a new form to begin and end an appointment, with ‘legal practitioner’ now listed as an option.

As Law Council President, Dr Jacoba Brasch QC, explains, the removal of the dual regulation eliminates any confusion over the differences between immigration lawyers and migration agents. She explains that:

the legal profession in Australia is well regulated and offers effective consumer protection mechanisms, including for vulnerable people in need of migration assistance”.[1]

This is because Lawyer’s already possess the qualifications and stringent professional code of conducts to protect consumers and make sure that they are working in the best interests of the client. Furthermore, this change represents a cost benefit and improves consumers access to justice and representation as more lawyers will be able to provide immigration assistance, including on a pro-bono basis.[2]

While de-regulation offers many positives, such as the removal of the costly and unnecessary dual regulation of migration lawyers, it also brings with it an inundation of consumer choice in choosing a representative for their migration matter.

It is important that consumers/prospective clients understand what deregulation means so that they are able to traverse the market diligently and transparently in order to choose competent representation.

You can find an accredited specialist immigration lawyer in NSW through:

You can find an accredited specialist immigration lawyer in Vic through:

  • Select the tab ‘Area of law’
  • Select ‘administrative & Constitutional law’ from the dropdown
  • Select ‘immigration law’ from the dropdown
  • On the generated list of lawyers, a blue badge will appear next to accredited specialists

For further information on this change, please see: