Question: Where do I find reliable visa advice? I want free advice OR only pay only for what I need done.
Have you ever tried calling the Department of Immigration’s contact number a few times for help and get different answers each time?
Have you tried calling different migration agents and also get different answers or get lured into a sale like a used car salesman?
Firstly the reason why you sometimes get conflicting information from the Department of Immigration’s help line (131 881), is because some officers who take calls simply do not have the experience and tenure to be able to answer complex questions or understand how the law applies to complex situations.
Also, it is a bit counter intuitive to get advice from the assessing authority who will be deciding your application. It is like going to the tax office to find out the best way to minimise your tax – there’s a conflict of interest.
Also what most people don’t realise is that Immigration Officers are trained to exercise the Government’s “policies” which do not always correspond to what the legislation may actually say.
So let’s get down to it. Where do you find reliable information?
First ~ Start with the official immigration website www.border.gov.au. Here you will find reasonably up to date and accurate information. There are rarely any mistakes and if there are, it’s because of a recent legislation change that has not been updated on the site.
Second ~ Get independent advice. You can search for registered migration agents and registered lawyers on the official agent registration website www.mara.gov.au. Here you will find all currently registered agents. THE TRICK is to select one with experience (preferably 10 years or more) over location.
Where NOT to get advice:
- Your friends – They will only know from their one experience and to be frank, every case is different and every case is processed by a different immigration officer so there are just to many variables to rely on one person’s single experience and one dimensional understanding of the complex visa requirements.
- Your local member of parliament – They are simply not knowledgeable about visa requirements and most of the time they are doing their best to be or service to members of their electorate to stay on good terms with voters ~ just being honest.
- Education agents – They are probably only familiar with one type of visa, that is, student visas. And sometimes they give unsolicited “future” advice about the visa prospects that a course may lead to, but that is irresponsible advice because the laws change frequently, so by the time you complete your course, the visa requirements for permanent residence pathways, or work visas may be vastly different to when you first started your course.
- Forums – They are just a mixed bag of singular experiences that are all one-dimensional views of specific cases. It will probably help you with the basics, but if your situation is unique or if you have complex issues that require proper guidance, you are safer in the hands of registered migration agents who deal with the legislation on a daily basis and are required to maintain a competent standard of their knowledge of the legislation.
- Unregistered agents – Do I really need to explain why? Just don’t do it. There is no sense in putting your future at risk to someone who has no regulatory body (www.mara.gov.au) to ensure that they keep up to date with the laws, ensure that you are treated fairly and to also be able to support you if something goes wrong.
So stick with the pros and be picky!
If you want reliable advice and guidance, jump on our website www.VisaOne.com.au and we can help answer your questions or point you in the right direction.
From the desk of Yuri Marshall | Changing Lives Everyday