Many people are unsure whether they should use a Migration Agent to lodge their visa application.
Using an agent is an additional expense - is it really worth it?
This article goes through the top 5 reasons why you might consider using an expert migration agent to assist with your application.
1. Visas Can be More Complicated than they Appear
A good example of this is Graduate Temporary Subclass 485 visas.
Many students lodge these themselves without an agent, without realising that the requirements are quite complex. However, many students do not get the result that they expect and we've seen the following:
- Students selecting the wrong stream, and ending up with either a refusal or a visa which is shorter than they expected
- Missing key time of application requirements (for example providing evidence of English language testing, health insurance, AFP clearances) and being refused. If you miss an essential time of application requirement, it is usually not possible to fix this, even if appealing to the AAT (Administrative Appeals Tribunal)
- Getting the timing wrong - for example lodging without a proper completion letter confirming the date of completion or on the same day they complete and being refused.
An Expert Migration Agent will thoroughly understand both the Migration Regulations and the Department of Immigration Procedures Advice Manual. They will also have comprehensive pre-lodgement checklists to ensure that essential requirements are not missed at lodgement.
2. Migration Rules Change Constantly
The migration landscape changes constantly - an option which may have been a good one last year may now not be possible. So far in 2017, we have seen:
Part of a migration agent's job is to keep up to date with all changes to Migration Rules and settings, so that they can ensure that their clients are aware of all opportunities as they arise.
- Major Changes to the Skilled Occupations Lists for General Skilled Migration, 457 and ENS
- Much higher points scores required for SkillSelect invitations for Skilled Independent Subclass 189 visas
- Several states have made significant changes to their State Migration Plans (eg Tasmania, ACT, Queensland, Victoria)
- Partner visas now must be lodged online with paper applications no longer being accepted
Qualifying for migration to Australia is getting more competitive, so having a skilled migration agent on your side can give you a big advantage.
3. Dealing with the Department of Immigration can be Difficult
Due to funding cuts and an increase in the number of visa applications lodged, the Department of Immigration is less accessible than was previously the case.
- They now prefer to deal with clients electronically, and getting through on the phone is very difficult
- Visa applications are now processed by teams, and you will no longer have a dedicated case manager processing your file. This makes it difficult to discuss any special circumstances which may apply to your case
- Immigration is indicating that they will refuse applications where they are not fully documented
- Where they do ask for further information, the request from Immigration can be difficult to understand - applicants can easily make a mistake and not provide the documentation required
An experienced migration agent will ensure that your case is as fully documented so that any requests from Immigration are minimised. If you do receive a request for further information, they will be able to advise you clearly about which documentation will address the issues raised. Where necessary, they can escalate issues to management to get problems resolved.
4. You May Need a Backup Plan
With the migration landscape changing so quickly, it is a good idea to make sure that you are considering all relevant options rather than putting all your eggs into one basket.
Proficient migration agents will be able to advise you on all of the available options. They will be able to assist in identifying the one which is best suited to your situation. On top of this, they will be able to make sure that you keep your options open as long as possible, just in case changes to migration settings mean that the main option is no longer possible.
Due to the constant changes, obtaining permanent residence in Australia can be a highly stressful experience. Having a dedicated migration agent to guide you through all the ups and downs of the migration process can be a great comfort, aside from improving your chances of a successful outcome.
5. You May Only Have Once Chance to Get it Right
If your application is refused, this will usually mean that you lose the Department of Immigration application fees - which can be many thousands of dollars. However, there may be more significant ramifications such as:
- Refusal on the basis for false or misleading information can result in a 10-year ban on visa approvals
- Onshore refusal can result in a Section 48 bar - this would prevent you from lodging further visa applications from within Australia
- Some visa applications must be lodged within a certain timeframe for you to be eligible - such as the Graduate Skilled Subclass 485 visa
- Your age can be an important factor in many skilled visa types
- If the migration rules change after you lodge, you may not be able to re-lodge your application
Capable migration agents will thoroughly check your application before it's lodged, so that a simple mistake will not jeopardise your immigration future.