Should you really hire an immigration agent? That’s a few thousand dollars question…
I have been at that situation a few times myself. Once when I was applying for a Partner visa, and another time when my daughter was born. Different countries, different places.
For those who do it themselves, learning immigration matters is usually temporary – you educate yourself just enough to lodge your application, then forget everything afterward.
After all, Migration agents don’t come cheap. In fact, last year registered migration agents (RMAs) reported fee range for Permanent visas from around two thousand dollars up to four thousand dollars. For most immigrants who are still in search for new life or trying to find a decent job in a competitive job market, four thousand dollars is a heck lot of money.
Depending on where you come from, four grand Australian dollars can buy you a nice piece of land in your home town, right?
Which is why, DIY method (Do-it-Yourself) quickly becomes an alternative to Migration agents for many. Understandably, the Department also doesn’t require you to use migration agent to lodge an application. I have used Migration Agents once myself, and ‘DIY’ the other time. The big question is – can you afford to risk it?
Are you in Australia, or outside?
If outside Australia, whether it’s a temporary 457 work visa or permanent 189 skilled, you’re very unlikely to lodge your application without an agent. In that case, you either find a local agent who specializes in Australian immigration (cheaper option) or hire one from Australia.
Many immigration agents across Australia help applicants that are outside the country. The only downside is the agent fees can be quite expensive. Few still choose to hire anyway as they feel more secure with the depth of knowledge and experience of Australian registered migration agents.
On the other hand, if you have been living in Australia for few years, you feel a bit more confident about lodging application yourself. A typical DIY process can look something like this for someone already in Australia,
- To start, you know which visa you are going to apply (most of the time anyway).
- You do your homework: search in google about the visa, go to border.gov.au site to gather requirements, and may be read few blogs on what others have to say.
- You turn to few friends and families for advice that have lodged the same visa before.
- If necessary, you do skill assessment and take English test.
- You gather all the supporting documents mentioned in the visa application,
- And finally, you log in to your ImmiAccount to lodge your application.
If you’re really good at following instructions, the whole process can feel pretty straight forward.
But, the truth is, English is a second language for most visa applicants. And, even though you may be really good in English academically, such as scoring an easy 7 in IELTS, sometimes we find it hard to interpret meanings and follow specific instructions. And so, the risk of messing up your visa application goes higher.
To me, one big advantage of using Migration Agent is when the department asks for additional documents. You may not have a clue how to respond, but having an agent by your side, who has deep experience in your type of case, is a huge relief and your chances for success increases exponentially.
If you’re contemplating about hiring a migration agent, may be the following information will help.
There are certain things you can expect and couple of things you shouldn’t expect from a Migration agent. Let me expound on that a little bit more…
What to expect from a Migration Agent?
There are several things you can expect. After all, we pay them, right?
Becoming a registered migration agent is a graduate level certification. Anyone who is an RMA has (or at least should have) deep knowledge of migration law and procedure. Once you tell your agent about your situation, he or she will carefully assess your case and tell you about all your visa options.
The visa assessment usually happens during the initial consultation. And, some migration agencies offer this service for free (note: if you use agents from our list, initial consultation is guaranteed to be free, book here).
Give you a tentative timeline for the visa process
Based on the information the department provides, and also based on their own experience, RMAs can usually accurately predict how long your process might take.
Help prepare supporting documents
All supporting documents that needs to be submitted along with the application will be collected, with your help, and be prepared by the agent.
Some applications take longer than others. But, waiting for the decision, can be agonizing. A good migration agent understands this and for your peace of mind, will frequently let you know about the progress of your application, every step of the way, even when there is no progress. And, when the decision is made, your agent will let you know the outcome asap.
If the department requires more evidence to make a decision, your agent will make necessary arrangement for that. If your agent asks you for something at that point, you must respond immediately.
Now, moving on to things you shouldn’t expect from an agent. In fact, if you come across an agent who promises you these things, you know what to do – run a kilometer as quickly as possible…
WHAT NOT TO EXPECT FROM A MIGRATION AGENT?
Just because you paid doesn’t mean a Migration Agent can do anything for you. There are certain things they can’t help you with. And, these shouldn’t be the reason why you hire an agent. Here they are:
If you do not meet the requirements, there is nothing a migration agent can do. Run as fast as you can if someone promises you that.
Speed up processing time
What Migration agents can do is speed up the application preparation time leading up to the lodging day. But once its lodged, there is nothing he or she can do to reduce the processing time.
If anything, a careless migration agent can slow down your processing if all the required document wasn’t well prepared before submitting. So, be careful who you pick if you decide to use an agent. And always make sure you pick a MARA agent.
To wrap up what we discussed,
I know you just spent two minutes reading and trying to assess risk and reward of using (or not using) a migration agent for your visa application.
Nobody can make that decision for you except yourself. I am not a Migration agent, and that allowed me to give you my unbiased opinion.
To conclude, here’s my two cents…
Consider this situation: You’re already in Australia – your case is straight forward – and you consider yourself a fast learner who is comfortable researching stuff on the internet, you could probably get away not using a Migration Agent. If so, good luck to you. This is a really good place to start.
However, if you have a complex case, or you live outside Australia, or for whatever reason, you are not confident in immigration matters, you’ll look back and only be thankful that you hired a professional service. After you’ve come this far, can you really afford to risk it all?
When you hire an agent, you are reducing that risk. And when you hire a really good agent, the risk goes down even further. Which is why I started MigrationQuotes.
My job here is to help you find the right migration agent – only those that are really fantastic at what they do. So, just go here and let me know a little about yourself. I will put you in touch with just the right agent.
And, watch out for those pretentious agents….
About the Author,
Hey, This is Yogi. Thank you for visiting my site. I am an ex-Electrical Engineer. Recently moved to Melbourne after spending 15 years in USA. I am not a Migration Agent, but if you need help finding one, I can help you with that.