What is MARA? MARA’s Role in Australian Migration

Even if you are eligible for an Australian migration visa, there are many pitfalls that can cause failure of your application. The process is complicated, requiring the services of a good migration agent to Australia. During this choosing process, you will come across ‘MARA’ let’s look at how important this body is to Australian migration.

What is MARA?
The Migration Agents Registration Authority or MARA is part of the Department of Immigration and Border Patrol and the proper name is really, OMARA – The Office of Migration Agents Registration Authority. Check out their official website for more details. https://www.mara.gov.au/

Key Functions and Objectives of MARA
MARA’s job is to regulate Australian Migration Agents and oversee any agencies offering Australian immigration services; as such dealing with an Australian registered migration agent is very important.

Here are MARA’s main objectives as listed on their website

● Clients needing migration service understand their rights
● Registered agents understand their responsibilities
● Registration of only suitable bodies as agents and refusing registration to others not conforming to standards
● Ensure agents are up-to-date on visa regulations with proper knowledge and skills to offer accurate advice to clients
● Monitoring agents for integrity, conduct and service quality
● Clients of registered or formerly registered agents have a proper platform to complain
● Handling of complaints effectively

Why is MARA Important to you when choosing an Australia Migration Agent?
MARA is your most important link in the migration process as it ensures the registered agent handling your application is acting responsibly. Any agent signing up with MARA has to follow a Code of Conduct.

What is the MARA “Code of Conduct”?
MARA registered Australian migration agents are given a Code of Conduct, set out in legislation to control the conduct of agents. Their obligations towards clients are clearly marked ensuring a fair and honest practice. Do check out the Code of Conduct and practise guides as outlaid on the MARA website.

Obligations of a Migration Agent under the MARA Code of Conduct
Some key obligations listed in the Code of Conduct are as follows;
● Interactions with clients
● Proper fees, charges and record keeping
● Required to respond to any complaints made against them via MARA

Remember choosing an experienced and professional agent will ensure success in your migration process!

For a no-obligation quote and initial consultation contact our friendly team at Sure Migration agents in Perth.

How to choose the best Australian Migration Agent

Australian Migration Guide – Tips to Find The Best Registered Migration Agent to suit your needs
Dreaming of living, working, studying or holidaying in the amazing land down under? You are not alone, Australia is on nearly everyone’s dream list and with so many people trying to get in, your application needs to stand out and be perfect, hence considering applying via a professional Australian Registered Migration Agent is a very important decision to make. Here’s how you find the best Registered Migration Agent to suit your needs.

Avoid the commission or sale driven migration agents
If you are hounded by a migration agent to sign a contract with them even before analysing your eligibility to migrate, avoid them. Many sales reps hired to promote the business have only their commissions at heart. Look for an agent registered with MARA (migration agents registration authority) a requisite for all legit migration agents in Australia. Talk to them first over the phone and make sure the Registered Migration Agent is a good fit for your application. Many agents specialise in certain areas and your requirements may be unique.

Experience in Migration Counts
Look for an agent with lots of experience to back them up. Only through experience gained over a course of time will a good agent know what Home Affairs is looking for and which angle to push your application form for success. Legislations change constantly hence it’s good to go with a migration agent up to date and savvy with the latest requirements.

Customer feedback can be a great proof of the best migration agent for your application
Research; explore the company’s media pages, reviews on Google and customer testimonials – excellent methods for judging the agent’s service. You can also check the MARA website to see if the company you are looking into is listed or reviewed.

Check for MARA Registration
Be sure to check with MARA to see if the agent is registered.
Here are the pros and cons of registered – non-registered agents;
● Regulated – Not regulated
● Annual CPD (continuing professional development) is mandatory – No CPD
● Reports to relevant authority – No authority to report to
● Is constantly observed – No governing authority

Be Aware of the migration agents fees before you commit to working with them.
Migration and visa application fees depend on circumstance, visa and experience of the migration agent. Factors contributing to migration fees include consultation charges and migration consultation price. A start-up fee to discuss your migration potential is often charged varying from $50 to $300. Choose Australian migration agents offering value for money via a range of services, coupled with experience and a high success rate.

For a no-obligation quote and initial consultation contact our friendly team at Sure Migration agents in Perth.

How Does the Australian Immigration Point System Work?

Thinking of Australia as your new home, a fabulous nation for skilled migrants to settle down and play your cards right and you could enjoy lucrative jobs and a great lifestyle. Assessing your potential and knowing about Australian immigration visa types is crucial; as this article explains one of the first steps in the process of emigrating to Australia. Here we explain the basics of the Australian Immigration Points system and how it works.

The Australian Immigration Points System Explained
If you are looking at a skilled working visa, entitling you to live and work in Australia, benefiting from educational and medical facilities with the probability of obtaining citizenship, you must qualify under at least one category in the ‘occupation on demand list’ and earn at least 65 points on the Emigrate to Australia Points System. The Australia Visa Points System explained by a registered Australian migration agent will help you better understand your potential. Link

Emigrate to Australia via Primary Skilled Occupation List
The Occupation List One or the Medium Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) will help assess if you are in the forefront of the skilled occupation list. Link Link

Submitting your Skilled Visa Application
When applying for a skilled visa as a family or couple, you must make only one application. This primary application must be submitted by the most qualified member, able to score the highest points within the primary in demand occupation list, with a minimum score of 65 points. This individual is the lead applicant. If you are thus eligible according to the occupation list or MLTSSL do so under visa subclass 189 or 190.

Short Term Strategic Skills List (STSSL)
Called the Short Term Strategic Skills List (STSSL) this is secondary to MLTSSL. People qualifying under MLTSSL automatically qualify for STSSL too and can apply under visa subclass 189 or 190. But if you fall under STSSL only, and still earn a minimum 65 points, you can apply for permanent residency under visa subclass 190.

Factors that Help Points Score
While a number of factors contribute to the score age is prominent. 45 years is the maximum for eligibility.
● Age 18-24 = 25 points
● Age 25-32 = 30 points
● Age 33-39 = 25 points
● Age 40-44= 15 points

English proficiency
• English to a superior level – assessed by completing one of the accepted tests – 20 points
• English to a proficient level – 10 points

Work Experience – Completed in Australia
• One year – 5 points
• Three years – 10 points
• Five years – 15 points

Work Experience – Completed Overseas
• 3 years – 5 points
• 5 years – 10 points
• 8 years – 15 points

• Degree qualification – 15 points
• Diploma / Trade qualification – 10 points

What if you only score 55 Points
If you only score 55 points you still stand a chance of securing an Australian visa under visa subclass 489, giving you a bonus of 10 points. It’s a temporary visa evaluated after 2 years. Get the help of a skilled Australian migration agent to look at all options, for a successful move to Australian.

For more information on the Australian Points System for skilled migrants please contact our team for an initial consultation.

I feel more relaxed here!

Shirley Ann Lochhead is loving her new life in Perth, with its plentiful sunshine and outdoor-focused lifestyle…

For us, Australia offers better opportunities and an attractive outdoor lifestyle. Robert has been living in Australia for over 30 years, while I am a temporary resident living in Australia on a spouse visa.

I had previously lived in Queensland over 30 years ago but suffered from homesickness and returned to the UK. Robert has a brother living in Sydney so he knew about the opportunities that Australia could offer him.

I got to know Robert through a social network site for people from our home town. We had never met but would often chat via the site as I had been to Australia on holiday every couple of years visiting my son, who lived in Melbourne.

After four years of chatting, Robert returned to Scotland on holiday in September 2015 and we met in person for the first time. I already had flights booked to go to and Robert invited me to visit him in Perth, which I did.

In March 2016 I returned to Perth for another visit to Robert and stayed for three months, by which time we both realised we wanted to be together.

I returned to the UK, handed my notice in at work and began clearing out my house and saying my goodbyes to friends and family. I returned to Perth six weeks later and we married in September 2016.

We used savings to apply for a spouse visa and flights. We spent about A$11,000 between the visa and agent fees, as well as our medical and police checks.

Our migration agent is Victoria O’Neill of Sure Migration in Perth. We decided to use an agent as I was concerned that I might not provide the correct information.

Knowing that Victoria is at the end of the phone at any time to reassure me when I feel the process is taking so long is fantastic. I wanted the reassurance of someone with detailed knowledge of the visa process who could take the stress away from us and make everything as straight forward as possible.

There haven’t been too many sacrifices with the move other than sorting out my house in the UK. My grown up family wouldn’t be migrating with me and Robert was already living Perth, where he owned his own house, so we knew exactly where we would be living.

I originally arrived on a tourist visa and we applied for the spouse visa after our marriage. I was immediately issued a bridging visa until my temporary residence visa was issued 12 months later.

A further year later, I have now been invited to apply for permanent residency. It could be a further 12 months before it is issued but I hope it will be earlier so I can finally call Australia home. I just want to continue living in this amazing country!

We live in a three-bedroom, single storey property in Heathridge.

Our suburb is close to the beach and only 30 minutes from the city via the train or freeway. There is a mix of young families and mature couples in our area. There is a primary and high school close by, as well as local shops.

The housing market in WA has seen a downturn in the last couple of years but in our suburb properties are only on the market for a couple of weeks before they are sold.

The weather here is great. Spring, summer and autumn are wonderful. It can get very warm in summer and it is relatively low humidity in comparison to the eastern side of the country.

Our life here is focused around catching up with friends over dinner. Being so close to the coast means that you can take advantage of the great weather and go for a swim or surf. There are great parks everywhere here and most have barbeque facilities. At the weekend we usually go for a drive into the hills where there are so many lovely wineries and country pubs.

There are a lot of expats living in Perth so you always find yourself talking to a familiar accent, which helps if you are feeling a bit homesick. I am always chatting to people and find the Australians to be friendly and welcoming.

– as featured in Australia & New Zealand magazine

We feel like we’re at home!

In search of a better work-life balance, Chris and Stevee Puzey decided to make the move to Perth, Western Australia…

After feeling that we were both working rather than living we decided it was time to enjoy more of a work-life balance. Going to work in the dark and returning back home in the dark makes you realise that there is more to life.

We had been on holiday to Australia a few times and instantly fell in love, I mean what’s not to love? Just walking along the beach you are forever seeing dolphins – and that is our new life now!

After a lot of saving and selling, we were lucky enough to have a couple of cars to sell. We wanted to leave with a secure amount in the bank after paying for all our bills to get us to Oz.

We spent around £25,000 on the move, which covered our visas, flights, shipping our belongings and transporting our dogs. We tried to sell our house in the UK but in the end we left with it being rented out. We are actually glad, now we are here, that we only rented it out as we will always have that house to fall back on.

We found the migration process quite simple with it just being the two of us as you have the time so sit together and go through it all.

Chris sat all the exams but the tough part was providing the evidence for his skills as City & Guilds denied all knowledge of his qualifications. Luckily he had print-outs of all of his online exams with City & Guilds to back the evidence up.

We chose to use a registered migration agent to help us with our visas – Victoria O’Neill, the director of Sure Migration. We actually popped over to Victoria’s house when we were on holiday in Perth a couple of years prior to our move. I mean, talk about a personal touch!

We both worked and wanted the migration process to be as simple as possible. We didn’t want to feel bamboozled and stressed with the process.

From meeting Vic at Sure Migration to getting our visas the process took around two years. We submitted all our information in April 2017 and received our permanent residency visas in September 2017.

The job process was quite a long one. Chris started looking for work once his Expression of Interest was accepted. He started looking on job websites such as Seek and Indeed but also started stalking CEOs from motor companies and heads of recruitment!

Claire Douglas from RAC WA got back to Chris and suggested keeping in contact regarding his visa application and if a job was to become available for his trade she would be in contact. In the meantime Chris applied for a job as manager of Kmart Tyre and Exhaust where he had to do a phone interview and a Skype interview. Chris got the job but they couldn’t give him a specific start date so he carried on looking for jobs! Claire Douglas from RAC WA then got back in contact with Chris regarding a centre development manager’s role for RAC Mandurah.

He had to carry out an automated video interview and was told they would be in touch if he was required for further interviews. Luckily, he got the email for an early morning conference call with the general manager and operations manager for Auto Services.

The interview went well, but then it was a waiting game to see if he had the job!

We left our house on 31 January and our last week in the UK was spent with family in the Cotswolds. The week ended with a leaving party at a pub on the Saturday, where we danced until 3am!

It was emotional taking our two dogs Nala and Indie to Golden Arrow shippers – they flew out on 7 February, the same day we flew.

We then had a few more family get-togethers before Stevee’s parents drove us to the airport. What surprised us the most were the tears from so many people, and people we didn’t think would cry.

We flew via Palm Springs in LA to attend a friend’s wedding and it was whilst sitting in the departures lounge of LAX airport that Chris got the call to say that he had got the job! It was a big weight off our minds.

After LA we hit Melbourne on 14 February for a few days sightseeing, having planned to pick up the dogs from quarantine on
19 February. Collecting the dogs from quarantine was so emotional but once they are instantly back with you, you forget the heartache!

We then set off on a 4,000 kilometre road trip to Perth. This once-in-a-lifetime roadtrip, which took two weeks, flew by and the dogs were loving Aussie life on the beach everyday! We had an incredible time before we headed to a holiday rental in Cooloongup for the next six weeks.

We had sussed out what area we wanted to live in when we were on holiday and we knew we were looking for a short-term rental south of the river.

A pool was a must and we found a great four-bedroom property with a pool in Baldivis. We will look to buy in a year or so. Our five-year plan is to go to Melville, where there’s a real family vibe.

Work is going well. Chris is working more reasonable hours, and with no evening or weekend work, that makes a huge difference. We are actually sat down at the table having dinner together in the week, something we never did in the UK.

An average working day for Chris starts at 8am and finishes at 5pm. The work has been very challenging but within a month he has helped the centre achieve its busiest and biggest turnover in the nine years it has been open, so things are going well.

We are loving living so close to the beach and every dog walk is just perfect. We are spending more time together and enjoying life. Just waking up to the sun to do 6am dog walks on the beach makes such a difference. The sun really does make everything better and people seem happier – for us, the balance here is perfect!

We can’t get over how social and outdoors-focused everything is here. We have just brought a paddleboard, so we are hoping to enjoy that aspect of life too! Our weekends are typically spent exploring our surroundings. We recently ventured into the Perth Hills and realised we have so much more to explore! Every weekend is going to be so exciting.

We miss the different seasons in the UK, and of course family and friends, but we already have Chris’s family coming out in October for his birthday and Stevee’s in January, so that gives us a real focus. As we want to buy a house there’s a real focus at the moment on saving, and to buy a jet ski!

The lifestyle here is so much better than the UK but anyone thinking of moving to Australia needs to plan properly. Plan where you’re going and what you want. You don’t want to move and feel like you have no connection with a place. In Perth, we really feel like we’re at home.

– as featured in Australia & New Zealand magazine

We’re loving every moment!

Attracted by the prospect of warm, sunny weather and better job prospects, Laura Lilly and Ryan Crawford made the move to Western Australia…

We both felt that Australia had more opportunities for us in our chosen occupations. Cornwall is a beautiful place to live but the job competition was intense and the opportunity to own our home felt unobtainable. We both love the outdoors and wanted a lifestyle to reflect that.

I [Laura] had visited the east coast of Australia in 2008 after living in New Zealand between 2007 and 2009. Ryan had never visited Down Under but was keen to see what I had been talking about.

As Ryan and I approached our 30th birthdays we saw all our friends having babies, getting married and buying houses. We both felt we had so much more to see and do before any of that backpacking first before we reached our final destination, we composed a bucket list of all the destinations be both wanted to visit.

In October 2014 we made a decision to uproot ourselves and leave the UK heading for the promise of warmer weather and better job prospects of Australia.

Within two months we had sold all our belongings, resigned from our jobs and bought around-the- world flights. We had to move quickly as the Working Holiday Visa for Australia was only available to us until we turned 30, which was in January 2015.

We chose the Working Holiday Visa route as we weren’t 100 per cent sure if Australia would be for us. This visa meant that if we changed our mind we wouldn’t lose anything.

By 31 December we were flying out to Costa Rica to begin our backpacking adventures en route to Perth, Australia. We had a blast backpacking and hiking through Costa Rica, Peru, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Bali and New Zealand.

During our stay we even met a guy from Perth who gave us his contact details for when we arrived there. We did in fact meet up with him and have dinner at his house four months later!

We landed in Perth on 10 April 2015 and stayed in a backpackers hostel. We immediately looked for work. Ryan landed a job working for a sail shade maker in Fremantle and I took a job working in before-and-after-school care.

We stayed at the hostel for about two weeks until we joined a company called All Pets. This was a house sitting service for people who didn’t want to put their pets into kennels. Our time working for All Pets meant we got a real experience living all over Perth in many different suburbs.

After three months of house sitting we started to look for farm work as the Working Holiday Visa can be extended for another year if you work on a farm for three months or more. Luckily, through a friend of a friend, we landed an excellent opportunity to work at Glenarty Road farm and vineyard in Karridale. We started the vine pruning and lamb work at the end of June and stayed on the farm until October. We made great friends with our hosts and met many more amazing people.

By this point we had seen and experienced a lot of places in and around Perth and we both liked the idea of living south of the river. Ryan’s work was going well and they welcomed him back after the farm experience. I still wanted a teaching job and found that jobs were hard to come by in Perth, so I applied for the Flying Squad.

This squad was like the flying doctors, but with teachers instead! We were flown out to remote and rural schools to work for short contracts ranging from four to 10 weeks. I was lucky and landed a 10-week position at an indigenous school in the outback, in which I was paid to travel to the job, and provided with accommodation. It was a nine-hour drive from Perth
to Meekatharra but I was able to fly to and from there on some weekends to see Ryan.

After my 10 weeks, I was offered a year’s contract with the school. It was a tough decision to make as it would mean that Ryan and I would be living apart for the year. The decision was made on the fact that if I took the 12-month contract I would be eligible for the 190 visa and could apply for residency. We both decided that it would be worth it as we wanted to stay and make a go of it in Australia.

Ryan continued to house sit for All Pets as it meant that he had no outgoing bills and he could save as much as possible. It worked well and he was only without accommodation for a couple of nights. During those nights he checked into a hostel.

In October, Ryan decided to finish with All Pets and go into a shared house in Attadale, Perth, renting a room, while I lived in a shared house in Meekatharra with two other teachers from Perth.

Ryan is now running his own business repairing kites and sails, mixing his passion of kite surfing with his everyday life. With the growth of kite surfing as a sport in Perth the opportunity to start up his own business was a no brainer.
I enjoyed working in Meekatharra so much that I took another contract for 2017 with the promise to Ryan that it is my last year there. Teaching at the school has provided many opportunities, progressing my teaching career and putting me in a position where I can save to buy our first house.

Ryan and I have made the holiday at the end of every school term count by travelling down the coast together and going to Exmouth for two weeks to kite and surf, or Shark Bay for two weeks to kite, go fishing and hang out with some friends.

We have also been to Augusta and Margaret River over the Christmas period and I have managed to fit in a trip to New Zealand to see some friends.

Victoria at Sure Migration made the visa process so simple. Ryan and I were both working fulltime and felt that going through a migration agent was the best option for us at that time.

Victoria was so approachable and answered all our questions no matter what the time of day. She took the stress off with the paperwork and any worry about having the correct documents and certifications.

Victoria talked us through each process and provided us with a checklist of what we needed to do. Each step was quite detailed and there were so many things that had to be checked off and certified – especially with my teaching documents. Getting my occupational paperwork in order was the most time-consuming part because I had to obtain documents I had left in the UK.

We started the process in May 2016 and submitted our application in October the same year. By December 2016 our residency visas had come through, so it was relatively quick, although the waiting seemed to take forever!

We love the weather in Australia and especially love that barbeques are provided all along the beaches and foreshores throughout WA.

Most beaches also provide toilets and showers, which are kept clean. This to us is a great way to encourage families to spend days out together in beautiful places like South Beach Fremantle or Point Walter.

Ryan gets in the water every day because the climate is so much warmer and the weather permits it for longer than at home. There are so many options for outdoor activities and gatherings.

Moving to new areas can be quite hard but having a sport or interest made it so much easier to meet people. We have met most of our friends through kite surfing and joining online kite groups and discussion forums.

I think the best advice when you arrive in Australia is to get out there and join a sports team, club or group. And if you don’t have a hobby, be bold and take up something new! If you are constrained by time due to your work commitments research a good migration agent. Having an agent took all the stress away for us.

Life is good and it’s how you make it work that counts. Even though our journey has led us to living apart for a while we are stronger than ever and enjoy every moment together.

I think we will eventually take citizenship to secure our place here in Australia, but who knows what will happen? Right now, we are just enjoying our new lives in Perth and loving every moment of it.

We have both saved hard and are looking forward to the next step in our Australian adventure.

-as featured in Australia & New Zealand magazine