Resident Visa application: Should I use a migration agent?

As a hopeful migrant, there are many things you will be thinking about as you plan that move to Australia.  And one of them is the big ‘V’ word – ‘Visa’.

For many people, the first visa question is obvious – Do I need help?

To get a visa, firstly you need to apply for the appropriate visa.  And many DIY’ers and self-starters wonder why they would bother getting help on that application when they can do it themselves. But when you look at the myriad of visa options, the caveats attached to most visa applications and the numerous ‘do and don’t’ disclaimers attached to most visas it is easy to feel overwhelmed at the very onset.

In the Permanent Resident Category itself there are currently thirty-eight visa types. Add to this the fact that the rules for applications undergo continuous changes based on Australia’s ongoing migration requirements and the visa appilcation process does seem daunting at first.

Can you DIY your application?

First things first: the answer is yes.  You can go it alone.  The Department of Home Affairs has helpfully put together a page full of resources that help – Applying for a Visa Yourself

But as you’ll see on the Welcome page itself, the entire process looks pretty complicated – even though you can get the forms you need at no cost and in most cases lodge online. However, there’s more to it than filling in a single form.  You’ll need to also include various documents – but if you run into trouble departmental staff can help you out over the phone and, in some countries, even in person.

The considerations when planning to do the process yourself is to obtain information from official sources, be a member of online forums (Expat Forum is a great source of current information)

Consider getting a migration agent

But the other option is to get professional help, for example from a range of community and legal organisations.The best place to go is to a migration agent who has been duly registered by the Office of the Migration Agent Authority.  It’s important to make sure they really are a proper migration agent because other people are actually not allowed to help you.

If you do get a migration agent, make sure they fill in Form 956 and send it through to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Once they’ve done that, the Department will send them all the relevant emails and letters.

More information about using a migration agent is here: (https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/trav/visa/usin).

Don’t make up your mind quite yet

So which way are you going to go?  DIY or with a migration agent?

If the answer is ‘DIY’, just be aware that even though you will save the agent fee, there are some potential risks to consider.

To see how much an agent will cost you, click here

MIGRANT NINJA TIP – Only registered migration agents can legally give immigration assistance in Australia. To do this, they must be listed on the Register of Migration Agents, held by the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority. Search the Register of Migration Agents

But one advantage of going it alone is that, if you’re savvy and confident enough to handle it, you cut out the middleman and retain full control of the process.

What are the risks of a DIY Application?

Of course, not getting a migration agent does carry some risks.  For instance, you could apply for the wrong visa, even though you think you might be eligible for the one you’ve selected.  And not only will you lose the fee in that case, a visa refusal will be added to your record.

Besides, if applying via the Skilled Occupation Stream, it is important to note that the occupations on this list. The occupations available are reviewed regularly by the Department of Jobs and Small Business to ensure their responsiveness to changes in the Australian labour market and regional variations across Australia.

MIGRANT NINJA TIP – The most recent update to these lists occurred on 18 March 2018 – see Summary of 18 March 2018 changes to the lists of eligible skilled occupations. This update was, however, outside of the regular review schedule and was implemented to coincide with the introduction of the new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa (subclass 482) and related changes to the permanent employer-sponsored skilled visas. For information on recent reforms to Australia’s skilled visa programs – see Abolition and replacement of the 457 visa – Government reforms to employer-sponsored skilled migration visas

The other risk of a DIY visa application is that, unless you’re an immigration lawyer, you probably are not going to have the experience, skills and knowledge that a migration agent does.  Migration agents are also good at explaining every step of the process and giving you peace of mind. They’re also less likely to fill in a form wrong or forget to lodge a document – and it’s crucial to bear in mind that the Department will not necessarily get in touch to ask you to correct an error.  They could just refuse your visa application.

Summary

In summary, the pros of applying for a visa yourself:

  1. You have full control of the Visa Application Process
  2. You save on agency costs which could run into thousands of dollars, depending on visa types
  3. You are directly in contact with the visa issuing authority and you will get direct updates via the official government portal

The Cons:

  1. You need to be absolutely certain on the type of visa applied for, any better alternatives that may exist and the ability to fulfil the prerequisite conditions of the visa type.
  2. The rules and requirements are in a constant flux. Occupations which are on the list today may be taken off without any prior warning (although, lodged applications may in most cases, still be considered)
  3. Depending on the family size and complexities of the case, at times expert guidance will be the best way forward.

DIY or migration agent?  It’s your call.

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MIGRANT NINJA TIP – Only registered migration agents can legally give immigration assistance in Australia. To do this, they must be listed on the Register of Migration Agents, held by the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority.  Search the Register of Migration Agents

 

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