Question: What do you do as a migration agent and what can you do for me?
When I use to work for the Department of Immigration over a decade ago, I use to ask myself the exact same question. Purely because of how much people paid migration agents. I never understood how much work went into a case, because from my end as an Immigration Officer, all I saw was the final product (ie. The application/case) which we would simply process and have assessed for a decision.
Now in my 12th year as a migration agent I can truly answer this for you. I will first give you the straight forward “shallow” answer, and also answer the latter question of what can a migration agent do for you.
Firstly, most migration agents will work for your case by doing most of the following things:
- Assessing your situation and advising you of the best visa option/s
- Researching legislation to determine how to apply visa criteria to your case
- Providing you with the correct forms (which there can be many)
- Providing you with the correct instructions to collate required documents and evidence
- Reviewing documents and evidence to ensure that they comply with the requirements/instructions
- Provide advice and instructions for any changes/tweaks needed in your forms/documents/evidence
- Keep up to date with legislative changes and advise you if any changes will affect you
- Manage deadlines for you so that deadlines are never missed
- Push the process along during preparation so that no time is wasted (minimize delays)
- Double check forms, documents and evidence prior to lodgement (risk management)
- Complete online visa application forms, from the information you have provided
- Attach documents and evidence to your online application, making sure it is compliant
- Make submission letters and special letters of request if you have unique circumstances
- Research case precedents and apply them to your case if you have a complex case
- Liaise with Immigration during the processing period to ensure smooth and unbiased processing
- Manage and comply with any requests from Immigration and check if they are relevant
- Ensure that your application is being processed in accordance with Immigration’s service standards
- Ensure that once your application is finalized, that you comply with any visa grant conditions (such as initial entries) or advise you of further appeal/review options if your application is refused
- Monitoring your visa status, in case of bridging visa issues, issues with illegal status and compliance
- Monitoring your visa application to ensure it is processed in a timely manner
- Be available for advice when needed and respond to you honestly and openly (full transparency)
Above are the common tasks that migration agents and their staff will perform for their clients. These tasks can be extremely time consuming if you were to perform them on your own without any guidance. Especially if you are unsure of your eligibility and not certain of the requirements and how to meet them.
Migration agents can cut through all that uncertainty and give you precise and accurate advice that will save you time and alleviate the fear and headaches of not knowing if your application will be approved or not. For most people who use agents, they pay for a professional service to get their case done the right way, the first time.
BUT, WHAT CAN AN AGENT REALLY DO FOR YOU?
How do you chose an agent amongst the thousands out there?!
It’s simple. Get a migration agent who KNOWS HOW TO DEAL WITH PROBLEMS.It is easy to find a migration agent that can perform all the tasks I mentioned. So it then begs the question, what is the difference between each agent? The answer is “EXPERIENCE“.
I’m not just talking about the duration of time they have been registered for. I’m talking about the real world experience they have with handling both simple and complex cases.
I’m talking about how skilled they are as a communicator, negotiator, and strategic thinker because if your application hits a road bump (such as getting a difficult Immigration Officer, or having your documents and evidence scrutinized by Immigration), how are they going represent your case and guide it to a successful outcome.
Your agent must be able to represent your case with both legal accuracy and strategic actions to ensure that every possible avenue of success is taken. They can only do this if they have been able to “SOLVE PROBLEMS” that they have encountered with Immigration and escalating cases to Senior Migration Officers, or to section managers and program directors to enable decision makers to take into consideration every aspect of your case.
- How long have you been a migration agent for?
- What is your background? (In other words, what did you do before becoming a migration agent)?
- Why did you become a migration agent? (Was is just for the money, or is your mission to help people?)
- What experience do you have with dealing with complex cases and sticky situations with Immigration?
- What experience do you have with dealing with difficult case officers? How did you deal with it?
- Have you ever escalated cases to Senior Migration Officers, Section Mangers or Program Directors?
- What are the risks of my case, how can you minimize them, and what is the backup plan (if any)?
These are just some of the questions you can ask a migration agent. You should ask any questions that are important to you when wanting to hire a migration agent.
If you have a fairly straight forward case, then you may want to find out other things that are important to you such as:
- Price/Value (getting a good service, for good value; not a cheap service with bad value)
- Efficiency (do they have a team that can work on your case swiftly? Or are they a slow one-man-band)
- Easy Work-Flow (is it easy to work with them, understand their systems and communicate with them)
- Proven Success and Systems (can they show you testimonials of other successful clients and demonstrate what systems they have made to replicate their success? Do they even have systems?)
- Online Presence (such as having an easy-to-use, professional website, and a booming Facebook page)
- Compatibility (this is important – do you “get along” with the agent and their service style)
I hope that helps.
From the desk of Yuri Marshall | VisaOne | Changing Lives Everyday