No level or form of immigration fraud is acceptable and any professional who fraudulently helps a migrant acquire a visa should be punished to the full extent of the law, says Migration Institute of Australia National President Angela Julian-Armitage.
Ms Julian-Armitage’s comments come after yesterday’s reports of immigration fraud in Fairfax publications and the ABC’s 7:30 program.
“I want to be very clear about this, no level or form of fraud relating to visa applications is acceptable or tolerable. This has been the very strong and clear view of the Migration Institute of Australia since its inception almost 25 years ago,” said Ms Julian-Armitage.
Ms Julian-Armitage noted that members of the Migration Institute of Australia have two tiers of professional ethical frameworks they are governed. Firstly, the profession’s rigorous code of conduct as set out by the Australian Government’s Migration Agents Registration Authority. The second tier is imposed by the Migration Institute of Australia’s own code of conduct which demands an even higher level of ethical and professional standards that Migration Institute of Australia members must adhere to. In addition, the Migration Institute of Australia’s lawyer members not only have to meet these two tiers in relation to their professional conduct but they also must comply fully with their respective professional associations’ Code of Conduct.
“As the peak professional body for Registered Migration Agents and Migration Lawyers, the Migration Institute of Australia considers any form of professional misconduct very serious which is why we drafted our own professional code of conduct to serve as an adjunct to the Government’s Migration Agents Registration Authority’s Code. To the point that each and every member of the Migration Institute of Australia must declare, at the point of becoming a member, that they will adhere and comply with the ethical rules and regulations demanded from our members over and above those of the Migration Agents Registration Authority or any other bodies’,” said Ms Julian-Armitage.
If breaches of the Migration Agents Registration Authority or Migration Institute of Australia codes of conduct are reported against a Migration Institute of Australia’s member, it will review the matter on a case by case basis. Where deemed necessary, the member would be required to go before the Migration Institute of Australia’s own Disciplinary Committee. If the agent is deemed guilty the agent can be subject to a range of penalties and sanctions even expulsion from the Institute where justified. This is over and above, and independent of any action that may be taken by the Migration Agents Registration Authority. Although, the Migration Institute of Australia is always prepared to work co-operatively with the office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority in these types of issues.
“However, I can confidently state that there has not been a single case brought before the Migration Institute of Australia Professional Disciplinary Committee in the past three years. I have absolute full confidence in the ability and the professional standards and ethics of the Migration Institute of Australia’s membership. We routinely conduct education sessions for our members in relation to ethical practice, where the code of conduct is dissected and reviewed. In fact, the most recent session was conducted last Tuesday. We are 100 per cent committed to all that is within our power to ensure that Migration Institute of Australia members conduct their practices with the highest ethical and professional practices so as to best serve their clients,” said Ms Julian-Armitage.
The major reasons for the alleged corruption proffered by the news reports yesterday was said to be due to a lack of funding and resourcing at Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
“The Migration Institute of Australia has often called on the Federal Government to properly fund the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and to crack down on unregistered “migration agents” both here and abroad and so it can put a stop to major issues like this from occurring. Yesterday’s reports support our view that a major lack of resourcing has led to major flaws in the integrity and management of the migration program,” said Ms Julian-Armitage.
Ms Julian-Armitage added that the Migration Institute of Australia will continue to work tirelessly with all sides of politics to procure a higher level of funding for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection so that the integrity of Australia’s migration program is as transparent, robust and, above all, fair to all applicants regardless of the depth of their pockets or who assists them with their visa applications.
“One of the things that drives the Migration Institute of Australia and its members is ensuring that we, as professionals, work within a Migration Program built on fairness and integrity.”
Migrating to Australia is not an easy or inexpensive process, which is why people need to use the services of Registered Migration Agents. I say, without hesitation, that Migration Institute of Australia members are best placed to assist migrants, not only with their journey to Australia, but with any visa needs they may encounter whilst here.
“Migration Institute of Australia members are put to a higher standard of ethical practice due to rigorous insistence on compliance with our code of conduct, our high standards of continual professional development and education together with our internal compliance and disciplinary framework which has served our organisation well in stamping out corrupt behaviour within our membership,” said Ms Julian-Armitage.
The Migration Institute of Australia will always champion and protect the integrity of Australia’s Migration Program and ensure that the consumer protections and working rights of migrants in Australia are not exploited.