Former Sydney and Adelaide-based migration agent Mark Mercurius has been barred for five years, the Chief Executive Officer for the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (Office of the MARA), Christine Sykes said on Monday.
Based on a number of complaints received, it was found that Mr Mercurius was acting in unscrupulous behaviour towards a vulnerable ethnic client group, Egyptian-Coptic Christians.
“Protection visa applicants are among the most vulnerable client group, and must be protected, not exploited,” Ms Sykes said.
“Mr Mercurius did not provide services for which he was paid and caused a loss of visa opportunities for his clients.”
Migration agents must keep up-to-date with migration law, abide by a code of conduct, maintain proper records and pass police checks.
“For your protection, make sure your agent is registered with the Office of the MARA – this authority ensures only fit and proper people are registered migration agents,” Ms Sykes said.
“Consumers should be especially wary of people claiming to be migration agents who do not provide services from an office, request payment in cash, or fail to provide a contract and receipts.”
Currently there are 4662 registered migration agents in Australia and overseas who can provide immigration assistance.
“If you are unhappy with the services of your registered migration agent, you can complain to the Office of the MARA,” Ms Sykes said.
“Making a complaint will not affect any visa application you have with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.”