As I wrote about in my recent post: call yourself a traveller? Why I’m still in Australia, I’m currently in the process of applying to Australian Immigration for a de-facto partner visa.
As a former backpacker in this great Land Down Under, I’ve also met countless other travellers looking to stay longer in this beautiful country for one reason or another.
As such, Australian Immigration processes, the questions and queries, the rules and regulations around them, have dominated a lot of my conversation over the past few years!
Applying for residency in Australia has been a long, arduous and expensive process from my partner and I that is far from over yet!
Like many others, we pondered over whether getting legal advice and guidance to assist us in this would be worth the costs – what benefits would we receive and would these be worthwhile?
Of the many people I’ve spoken to that have or are applying to Australian Immigration I would say about half have used an Immigration Lawyer and half haven’t.
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We applied some months ago for our de-facto partner and got a lot of help from the lovely Martin of Martin Udall & Associates.
Having previously worked for Australian Immigration services I found him a wealth of knowledge and very helpful.
As such, I’ve actually asked him to share a few tips with you guys too, which he has very generously agreed to.
So, over to you Martin…
Applying to Australian immigration can be daunting because there are so many different visa types.
Complex legislation such as the Migration Act 1958 (the Act) can be hard to understand.
The visa choice and application process can become overwhelming to the point of becoming almost crippling.
As a professional Australian Immigration Lawyer, I regularly see clients who have become unlawful non-citizens (UNC’s) or are required to depart Australia as a result of poor visa application choice or lack of visa application knowledge.
When speaking with these clients, they often tell me that they were unsure as to what their options were, or where to seek help.
When considering making a visa application both offshore and onshore within Australia, it is critically important to consider you goals and desired outcome.
Are you seeking to enter and remain in Australia permanently (i.e. gain permanent residence) or are you simply wanting to take the opportunity to travel, work or study abroad?
The answer to these questions will form the basis of your Australian Immigration visa application.
Why Use an Australian Immigration Agent?
An accredited Australian Immigration Lawyer or Migration Agent will be able to advise you in a much more detailed way as to what the benefits and/or disadvantages for each visa subclass are.
The benefits of using an Australian Immigration Agent are:
- they will explain what visa options are available to you;
- they will prepare all visa documentation on your behalf;
- they will lodge a well prepared and professional application; and
- will liaise with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection on your behalf.
Australian Immigration Agents CANNOT:
- guarantee your visa application will be successful;
- help you get a visa you are not entitled to or eligible for;
- assist in obtaining or guarantee faster visa processing;
- act unethically or contribute to migration fraud; and
- lodge fraudulent or false documentation on your behalf.
What if I’m Already in Australia and Want to Stay?
Often people arrive in Australia as tourists and realise they want to stay here for longer or permanently. Reason for this might include:
- meeting that special person;
- a job offer;
- wanting to travel a bit more; or
- commencing study in Australia.
These circumstances are when an Australian Immigration Lawyer or Agent can be of greatest assistance to you. They are experts in their field and will advise you what is required to meet the requirements for grant of a visa.
Why Use an Australian Immigration Registered Agent?
People are often turned off using a Migration Agent or Lawyer on that basis of cost, negative experiences or bad publicity of unscrupulous agents.
Applying for a visa is an investment in your future, therefore it is important to give yourself every opportunity for success.
A reputable Australian Immigration Agent or Lawyer will always provide you with a contract for service, this document will outline the work required and expected charges.
This document should also include expected visa application charges, which can range from free to several thousand dollars.
Further Advantages of using an Australian Immigration Registered Agent are:
- people who have sufficient knowledge of the legislation and migration law procedures;
- people of high integrity;
- fit and proper to provide migration assistance or advice;
- required to abide by a strict code of conduct; and
- required to act with integrity and ethics.
How Much Will an Australian Immigration Cost and What Can I Expect?
Australian Immigration Migration Agents and Lawyers charge different rates that will depend on their experience and qualifications. If your agent is also a registered lawyer then it is likely that you will pay a little more but you will be gaining the experience of a registered legal professional.
A guide to the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA) expected fee schedule can give you a good idea.(Please note: this is designed only as a guide to the expected fees and charges, and they may vary dependent upon experience).
Whichever method you and your agent or lawyer chooses you should be clearly advised of what to expect with no surprises or additional charges included. It is important to choose an Australian Immigration Agent who is registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority.
- Experience in document preparation
- Professional expertise incorrect application preparation
- Confidence and peace of mind that the application has been prepared adequately
- A support contact and someone to talk to
- Regular case updates
So if you are applying to Australian Immigration for a visa, these are some things to think about if you are considering using a lawyer.
Martin Udall is an Australian immigration law specialist and registered migration agent (MARN 0746812). Martin would be happy to hear from you and answer any questions.