Five signs that you are dealing with an unscrupulous adviser

Many visa applicants fall prey to advisers whose sole purpose is to make the most revenue for each transaction, without regard for the applicants’ welfare.  I came across many people who were given wrong advice and false hopes by their advisers; mostly students who are currently in Australia and some did not even have the chance to get their visas granted.

This article intends to provide five attributes of advisers that potential visa applicants should stay away from.   Advisers can be a person who work for an education agency, recruitment agency, migration consultancies, Registered Migration Agents (RMA), or Immigration Lawyers.


  1. 1.      Guarantees your visa result

You might have heard your adviser saying that you have a 100% chance of getting your visa approved.  As a visa applicant this is great news, however, you should then question how your visa result can be guaranteed when it is the Department of Home Affairs (and not your adviser) who will decide on your application.

RMAs and Immigration Lawyers registered with the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA) should adhere with the Code of Conduct for RMAs.  As per section 2.14A of the RMA Code of Conduct, “A registered migration agent must not represent that he or she can procure a particular decision for a client under the Migration Act or the Migration Regulations.
You can find the RMA Code of Conduct on the link below for your reference:

Guaranteeing successful visa results is usually a ploy to get more clients for enrolment or visa applications.

  1. 2.      Guarantees your job prospects

Many student visa applicants were promised to easily find a job once they are in Australia.  However, most of these students find out, once they arrive here, that finding a job is not that easy.  Finding a job here, just like in other countries, would depend on the available vacancies, your eligibility to apply for the role (if your skills and qualification match the role requirements), and if you have work rights on whichever visa you are holding.

The only time you can be confident that you will have a job once in Australia is if you have a job offer from your employer.  This is usually for work visa (subclass 482) applicants and not for student visa applicants.

This is again another marketing technique deployed by agencies to get more sign ups.


  1. 3.      Name drops authorities and their strong relationship with them

This is highly related to guaranteeing visa results.  Some advisers claim that they have a strong connection with the Department of Home Affairs and because of this, they are in control of your visa application decision.

Section 2.14 of the code states that “A registered migration agent must not portray registration as involving a special or privileged relationship with the Minister, officers of the Department or the Authority, for example to obtain priority processing, or to imply that the agent undertakes part or full processing for the Department.

If your adviser asks you for more money so they can get your visa grant faster, do not believe what they say and look for a second opinion.  Get another RMA or Immigration Lawyer (registered with MARA) to look into your case.

There are also some advisers who uses this (claimed strong relationship with the Department of Home Affairs) as a tool to threaten their clients that they can cancel their clients’ student visas for any reason they choose (see section 2.15 of the code).  Note that it is only the Department of Home Affairs who has the power to cancel Australian visas.

  1. 4.      Does not provide any documents about your enrolment or visa application

Advisers should be transparent to their clients and should provide documents about the clients’ enrolment (Letter of offer and Confirmation of enrolment), and the clients visa application (application content, visa fee payment receipt, application acknowledgement documents, and visa decision- grant or refusal from the Department of Home Affairs) and statements of services and invoices from their adviser (see section 5.5 of the code).

Ask for these documents from your adviser.  If you don’t get these documents, chances are, your adviser is hiding something from you.

  1. 5.      Does not have a licence to perform their job or their company is not registered as a business in Australia or overseas

For RMAs and Immigration Lawyers, you can find out if they are MARA registered by searching for your adviser’s name or MARN number on  If you want to check if the company that you are dealing with is a registered business in Australia, you can use ABN look up  If your agency does not have an office in Australia, check your country’s authority for business registration and check if they are registered.

It does not mean that you won’t be led astray if the company or agent you are dealing with is a registered business or registered with the MARA.  It would just be easier for you to file a complaint if your adviser is registered.

If you see any of these enlisted attributes with your adviser, get a second opinion for an RMA or an Immigration Lawyer.  A consultation might cost you about $100-$200 for one session but it can save you from spending $10,000 to $35,000 for studying a course you do not need.