Critical Differences between – MARA Registered Migration Agent and PIER Qualified Education Agent

Critical Differences between – MARA Registered Migration Agent and PIER Qualified Education Agent

If you are thinking of applying for a visa to study in Australia, you have probably come across many agencies offering enrolment and student visa services online. A quick ‘student visa Australia’ Google search brings up an infinite amount of information and course options, as well as available support services. So how do you choose the right one? What can a registered migration agent do for you that an education agent can’t? Do you even need an education or registered migration agent?

Existing or future students will have different needs and goals when it comes to choosing a course. Most students will want to study in Australia for one of the following reasons:

  • Improve their English
  • Extend their stay
  • Looking to up-skill, obtain additional qualifications
  • Looking to change careers/gain new qualifications
  • Looking for a pathway to permanent residence

To help you understand the difference on what services you can expect, we’ve put together the table below outlining the characteristics of an Education Agent compared to that of a Registered Migration Agent:

Education v Migration agents

PIER Qualified Education Agent  MARA Registered Migration Agent (RMA)
What registration is required? QEAC Certification Registration with the Office of the Migration Agent Registration Authority (OMARA), an office of the Australian Department of Home Affairs.
How do you become accredited/registered? Complete online coursework and self-assessment. Take online exam. Registered Migration Agents must

  • Have completed an undergraduate degree and
  • Have completed a Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate in Australian Migration Law and Practice.

Also meet requirements relating to English language competency, having access to the relevant Australian migration legislation and good character.

Can you provide advice on immigration/visas?  No – it’s a criminal offence for an education agent to provide migration advice Yes. This is exactly what RMAs are trained to do!
Is there a Code of Conduct? No, but Education Agents are expected to understand and comply with the Education Services for Overseas Student Act (ESOS Act). Yes, RMAs must follow the MARA Code of Conduct. It details the obligations and duties that RMAs must follow. RMAs can be reprimanded, or even lose their registration, for non-compliance with the Code of Conduct.
Mandatory continuing Professional Development No. However, some education agents do attend training events Yes, they must complete ‘Continuing Professional Development’ courses in order to maintain registration.
Professional insurance indemnity No – which can place international students at risk! Yes, RMAs must have Professional Indemnity insurance
Do they need to renew their registration? No – a Qualified Education Agent Counsellor Certification is valid for life. Yes, RMAs must renew their registration every 12 months and ensure that they meet the requirements for re-registration.
Service fees  Usually free – Education agents collect commissions for enrolling students. Fees generally apply for immigration advice and assistance with visa applications.

Education agents can…

  • Provide career and course counselling
  • Advise on the entry requirements for a course/courses of study
  • Assist with the application process and help secure a place in the course

Be mindful that…

  • Education agents are generally not able to handle complex cases.
  • If you are looking for assistance with your student visa application, a registered migration agent can provide guidance and advice. This may include assessing eligibility, acting on your behalf and preparing written submissions to support your application.
  • Migration agents can help you understand the Australian migration system and the processes involved, e.g. how bridging visas work, how a student visa application may affect your current visa.
  • Education agents are not allowed to provide advice on migration pathways and long-term visa options. It is unlawful for them to do this.
  • Education agents should not encourage students to study a particular course because it provides a “guaranteed” pathway to PR. There is no such thing as a guaranteed pathway to PR!

EasiVisa has a “Student Visa team” which consists of an Education Agent AND Registered Migration Agents that work side by side to build study pathways and provide the best advice for your student visa application. Whether you are looking to simply extend your visa for an extra 6 months, obtain a qualification that will help your career or would like a plan that may lead to permanent residence, our team will work together to provide you with the best service, combining sound course knowledge and visa expertise.

Put your future into safe hands and give yourself the best chance of a positive visa outcome!

Get in touch with us today if you would like a FREE initial assessment of your study options.

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