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“To use an agent or not use an agent? That is the question"
Old 4th November 2009, 02:25 PM   #1
Sheelagh Blanckenberg
 
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Default “To use an agent or not use an agent? That is the question"

There is no requirement for applicants to use the services of a migration agent and the decision is entirely optional.

However, Australian Immigration law is one of the most complex laws in the world. This complexity is compounded by the frequent changes made to both the law and policy directions. It is the main reason why migration agencies are a flourishing industry in the country.

Many applicants who do their own research and who have straightforward cases which clearly meet the legal requirements, are able to put together their own applications and lodge them successfully with DIAC. The statistics show this. The statistics also show the numbers of applications that are refused. What is not shown is why they were refused. Could the outcome of some of these refusals have been different if the applicant had used an agent?

Statistics also do not show how many people ‘self-assess’ themselves as not meeting the requirements and thus decide not to apply. Perhaps if an agent was consulted more people would realise they are eligible for an Australian visa? Nor do the statistics show how many applicants resort to using the services of an agent only after a problem arises.

While the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) website at www.immi.gov.au has valuable information on many visas, applicants should bear in mind there are currently over 140 visas available and they are not all spelled out in detail on this website. The information given applies to your standard, straight-forward, meet-all-the-requirements-first-up type applicant. ‘Square pegs fitting into square holes’ is a useful analogy. Not everyone is square fortunately (how boring would the world be if we were ).

But this non-uniformity is not catered for by DIAC on its website for obvious reasons. So this is where using the services of an agent is an important consideration and not one that should be dismissed lightly.

Migration Agents do not just assist with a form filling exercise for an exorbitant price as one so often sees bandied about. The benefits or ‘value-add’ of using a competent and experienced migration agent include:
  • The drawing up of a complete strategy and plan for the visa application which maximises the chances of success by ensuring that ALL available options are explored
  • receiving accurate advice in regard to the option most suited to an applicant’s circumstances
  • receiving expert advice and guidance on procedural matters
  • reducing problems and time-consuming delays as well as costly errors associated with an applicant’s lack of knowledge in immigration law and policy.

So agents cost money, yes, but in doing the application themselves, visa applicants need to ask the following questions:
  • am I saving money bearing in mind the hours and hours of my time needed to research my situation etc?
  • am I certain I have got it right?
  • are there any alternatives?
  • is the visa I have chosen the best option?


A caveat about obtaining advice from the internet!

The internet is full of places that purport to offer good solid advice. Some are truly useful, others hold outdated information or only anecdotal advice from people who might forget to include some key details.

Although several online forums are full of genuine and well meaning people who have useful information, many forum members appear to have selective memories or omit critical data that they decide is not worth repeating. Opinions given online only reflect that person’s experience and might not be at all relevant to others. So the challenge is what and who to believe.

Caveat on using a Migration Agent!

People offering migration advice in Australia must, as a matter of law, be registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA). Some migration agents operating outside Australia are also registered with the OMARA. If you are outside Australia insist on using an Australian Registered Migration Agent when planning your temporary or permanent migration.

All Registered Migration Agents must:
  • meet the qualification requirements for registration as well as ongoing annual professional development activities
  • be of good character
  • abide by the Migration Agents Code of Conduct which they are required to display in their offices.

For peace of mind always consult a Registered Migration Agent for advice and assistance on your Australian visa needs. An updated list of Registered Migration Agents can be found on the OMARA website at http://www.mara.com.au/consumers/ .
.

Last edited by Migration Help; 20th November 2009 at 11:06 PM.
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Old 4th November 2009, 02:29 PM   #2
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Comments, thoughts and personal experiences of forum readers on the use of a migration agent are most welcome!
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Old 13th November 2009, 12:16 PM   #3
Susan Wareham McGrath
 
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Hi Sheelagh

I think this is a really important thread, and thank you for starting it. Below is the content of a blog I posted recently on the topic:

I'm often asked by prospective visa applicants whether they should use a migration agent to assist them with their Australian visa application.

My advice is that deciding whether to retain a migration agent is like deciding whether to use a tax agent to complete your tax return, or a lawyer to represent you in Court. Many people manage their own matters successfully; many others are glad they obtained professional support.

Immigration is a life changing decision and should not be taken lightly.

In deciding whether to use a registered migration agent, you should carefully consider your ability to:

* Familiarise yourself with Australian migration law to the extent that you can identify and assess all the migration options open to you (and your family where relevant)
*Keep up with Australia's changing migration law and policy and apply it to your case throughout the assessment period to ensure you have the best chance of success
*Identify any factors that might cause your application to be refused - even those that aren't immediately apparent - before spending time and money on your application
* Present your case to DIAC in the best possible light, particularly if you need to make a legal submission
* Prepare and submit a valid application
* Obtain a positive skills assessment, for the occupation that best suits your background, skills and experience
* Support your application with the correct documentation in the required format and, of course,
* The complexity of your case and the time you have to prepare and monitor the progress of your application.

The kind of services you could expect a registered migration agent to provide include:

*Identifying the visa or visas that best suit you and developing a strategy to help you get that visa in the shortest possible time
* Advising on the Department of Immigration’s eligibility requirements
* Assisting with skills assessments applications if required
* Identifying the documents you will need to submit to ensure your application is valid
* Preparing your visa application and a legally based submission to accompany your visa application where appropriate
* Lodging your application in line with DIAC's requirements
* Keeping up with changes to migration law and policy to ensure your application is finalised within the shortest possible time
* Following the progress of your application through to visa grant
* Advising you as developments occur throughout the processing period
* Liaising with the Department of Immigration on your behalf
* Responding to all your questions throughout the visa assessment process
* Managing Migration Review Tribunal appeals and Ministerial intervention cases

If you do decide to use a migration adviser, I recommend that you use a MARA Registered Migration agent.

RMAs are bound by a strict Code of Conduct, have to study at the post graduate level and pass a rigorous entry exam to become registered, must be of good character and also have to undergo regular continuing professional development.

You can find out if your adviser is registered with MARA by visiting the Migration Agents Registration Authority and typing their name in the Register of Agents section of the Consumer Information link.

Best regards
Susan
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Old 14th November 2009, 09:30 PM   #4
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Hi Susan,

If i may add, a relevant bi-lingual-bi-cultural agent would be of greater asset to encapsulate and articulate the complex social, cultural and local work experiences to convert these backgrounds to fulfil the coded migration laws.

Australian laws are not generally designed or sensitive to serve multicultural populations. Often they are interpreted to serve a single cultural or social norm. This problem often crops up in meeting the legislated and policy requirements of dependency of "adult" children or in marriage arrangements.

The ability to convey these culturally based variances to fit the narrowly coded migration legislation can be a harrowing task if an agent is not involved.




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Old 16th November 2009, 03:50 PM   #5
Sheelagh Blanckenberg
 
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Thanks for your input Susan and Robert. Excellent points you both make.

The circumstances of each and every applicant will differ widely so at the end of the day it is very difficult to generalise whether to use an agent or not.

What I will advise all applicants though is that should you decide you need the services of an agent make sure he or she is registered with the Office of the MARA (OMARA). Using a registered agent is for your protection!
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Why use a migration agent when migrating to Australia?
Old 15th January 2010, 11:29 PM   #6
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An interesting blog about using a migration agent:

Quote:
I get a lot of e-mails lately, from people who seek advice because they intend to migrate to Australia. No surprise there. Why wouldn’t Australia be an sought-after destination? The rich cities, the friendly atmosphere, the exotic sights… Who wouldn’t want to live here? I moved here 8 years ago, and I gotta tell you, it was the best decision I’ve ever made.

Preparing for my immigration, though, was a terrible experience. Boy, that was bad. The neverending paperwork, the hours of standing in line in the embassy, the endless bureaucracy… All I wished was for somebody else to do it for me. I also had to get a job, sign the kids to schools, all those little things that can be really hard when you come to a new place and don’t really know the rules.

You can imagine my surprise when a couple of weeks ago a new family moved into our neighborhood, newcomers from the USA, and they all seemed as relaxed and happy as can be. It looked as if everything was taken care of, as if by magic, without their worrying about it. It baffled me, I had to know how it could be. My neighbors explained that they simply used the helpful services of Australian migration agents. Indeed, such miracle makers do exist, and they take all the paperwork away from you! Bill and Jessica, My neighbors, hired qualified, informed people to handle their migration, and took a huge burden off of their shoulders. Can you believe it, they only went to the embassy twice throughout the entire process! I admit, I was envious.

The agency did more than handle the paperwork; useful advice was at my neighbors’ service as well. The agents were familiar with the Australian laws and regulations, and so they were able to offer help with job options and work visas. My neighbors are both skilled workers (he’s a software engineer, she’s a nurse), so the agency told them about the so called Skilled Migration to Australia program. Turns out they could get visas that allowed them to retain their occupation, and their agents even gave them contacts of a few potential employers. A week after their landing, they were already working. I wish I had that kind of help — took me 3 months to find decent work… But then, it makes sense: I know Australia is in need of professional workers, why would it make it easier for them to come here? The thing is, it takes a professional to guide you through it!

My neighbors even got some info regarding their preparation for the flight, the first days, and how to prepare the kids. The agents really took them by the hand throughout the entire process. When they finally got here, they were a lot more confident and relaxed than your usual newcomers. They say that the agency’s assistance was worth every dime, and I can sure believe them.
Source

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I agree with you Sheelagh
Old 10th February 2010, 07:03 AM   #7
Ash Upadhyay
 
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Default I agree with you Sheelagh

Hi Sheelagh,

I strongly agree with you on this topic that though it is an optional service for individual to choose whether they want to use an agent or not, but my personal opinion says that if you have a stomach ache, you go to doctor, if you been want to build a house - you go to civil engineer and if you are thinking of applying for migration then you should go to a Migration agent, as that is the only way possible you will get upto date and proper guidance on where you stand and how you proceed with your application

saying that i also need to streach what you have also said that choosing a migration agent is very important thing as choosing wrong migration agent could jeopardice your whole application and could get you negative result regardless of your strong application.

I am right now in search of a good migration agent myself and would like your advice on this. any chance of me getting in touch with you over the phone or on email as i am currently residing in london and would like to discuss my chances of migrating to Australia. I will give you my full history once i get your contact detail either on phone or on email.

Kind Regards,
Ash Upadhyay

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sheelagh Blanckenberg View Post
There is no requirement for applicants to use the services of a migration agent and the decision is entirely optional.

However, Australian Immigration law is one of the most complex laws in the world. This complexity is compounded by the frequent changes made to both the law and policy directions. It is the main reason why migration agencies are a flourishing industry in the country.

Many applicants who do their own research and who have straightforward cases which clearly meet the legal requirements, are able to put together their own applications and lodge them successfully with DIAC. The statistics show this. The statistics also show the numbers of applications that are refused. What is not shown is why they were refused. Could the outcome of some of these refusals have been different if the applicant had used an agent?

Statistics also do not show how many people ‘self-assess’ themselves as not meeting the requirements and thus decide not to apply. Perhaps if an agent was consulted more people would realise they are eligible for an Australian visa? Nor do the statistics show how many applicants resort to using the services of an agent only after a problem arises.

While the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) website at www.immi.gov.au has valuable information on many visas, applicants should bear in mind there are currently over 140 visas available and they are not all spelled out in detail on this website. The information given applies to your standard, straight-forward, meet-all-the-requirements-first-up type applicant. ‘Square pegs fitting into square holes’ is a useful analogy. Not everyone is square fortunately (how boring would the world be if we were ).

But this non-uniformity is not catered for by DIAC on its website for obvious reasons. So this is where using the services of an agent is an important consideration and not one that should be dismissed lightly.

Migration Agents do not just assist with a form filling exercise for an exorbitant price as one so often sees bandied about. The benefits or ‘value-add’ of using a competent and experienced migration agent include:
  • The drawing up of a complete strategy and plan for the visa application which maximises the chances of success by ensuring that ALL available options are explored
  • receiving accurate advice in regard to the option most suited to an applicant’s circumstances
  • receiving expert advice and guidance on procedural matters
  • reducing problems and time-consuming delays as well as costly errors associated with an applicant’s lack of knowledge in immigration law and policy.

So agents cost money, yes, but in doing the application themselves, visa applicants need to ask the following questions:
  • am I saving money bearing in mind the hours and hours of my time needed to research my situation etc?
  • am I certain I have got it right?
  • are there any alternatives?
  • is the visa I have chosen the best option?


A caveat about obtaining advice from the internet!

The internet is full of places that purport to offer good solid advice. Some are truly useful, others hold outdated information or only anecdotal advice from people who might forget to include some key details.

Although several online forums are full of genuine and well meaning people who have useful information, many forum members appear to have selective memories or omit critical data that they decide is not worth repeating. Opinions given online only reflect that person’s experience and might not be at all relevant to others. So the challenge is what and who to believe.

Caveat on using a Migration Agent!

People offering migration advice in Australia must, as a matter of law, be registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA). Some migration agents operating outside Australia are also registered with the OMARA. If you are outside Australia insist on using an Australian Registered Migration Agent when planning your temporary or permanent migration.

All Registered Migration Agents must:
  • meet the qualification requirements for registration as well as ongoing annual professional development activities
  • be of good character
  • abide by the Migration Agents Code of Conduct which they are required to display in their offices.

For peace of mind always consult a Registered Migration Agent for advice and assistance on your Australian visa needs. An updated list of Registered Migration Agents can be found on the OMARA website at http://www.mara.com.au/consumers/ .
.
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Old 13th February 2010, 10:49 AM   #8
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As Migration Agent I'd say there is probably at least one time in almost every application where I get to stop a client from doing something that would be really detrimental to their application. Those are the times when I know what I'm worth to them. Because the Regulations are painfully inflexible. There are some rules that can't be broken. And others that will cause serious problems.

And most certainly we take a huge amount of pressure off them and let them get on with everything else they need to do in life.
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Old 18th February 2010, 08:39 PM   #9
Sheelagh Blanckenberg
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ash Upadhyay View Post
......saying that i also need to streach what you have also said that choosing a migration agent is very important thing as choosing wrong migration agent could jeopardice your whole application and could get you negative result regardless of your strong application.
A very valid point Ash. As in all professions and industries there are unfortunately those individuals who do the wrong thing and/or act unethically or unprofessionally. However, the numbers are small and I would like to say that the majority are very good at what they do. Certainly all the agents who participate in this forum are known to be professionals

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ash Upadhyay View Post
I am right now in search of a good migration agent myself and would like your advice on this. any chance of me getting in touch with you over the phone or on email as i am currently residing in london and would like to discuss my chances of migrating to Australia. I will give you my full history once i get your contact detail either on phone or on email.
Sadly, for health reasons Ash I am not taking on any clients at the moment. However I would not hesitate referring you to any of the other agents on this forum. You have an option of either private messaging them through the forum or you can obtain contact details from the agent's personal profile which you access by clicking on their name.

Good luck and if you need any more help please dont hesitate to come back to the forum.
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Old 18th February 2010, 08:44 PM   #10
Sheelagh Blanckenberg
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by downundervisa View Post
As Migration Agent I'd say there is probably at least one time in almost every application where I get to stop a client from doing something that would be really detrimental to their application. Those are the times when I know what I'm worth to them. Because the Regulations are painfully inflexible. There are some rules that can't be broken. And others that will cause serious problems.

And most certainly we take a huge amount of pressure off them and let them get on with everything else they need to do in life.
Extremely valid points as well Jeff, thank you.
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