Find out what a migration agent does and why you might need one.
What does a migration agent do?
Registered migration agents provide immigration advice and assistance to potential immigrants. A qualified migration agent must hold a current legal practising certificate issued by an Australian body that is authorised by law to issue it.
Migration agents can:
- Help you prepare your visa application.
- Advise you on what visa will best suit you.
- Ensure that your documentation is up to standard.
- Give you an honest opinion on your eligibility.
- Monitor the progress of your application.
- Liaise with the Australian Government on your behalf.
- Represent you before a court in relation to a visa matter.
So, why do I need one?
Migration agents can help you navigate the complex world of visa applications. A migration agent is a good choice for anyone who does not feel confident in lodging an application on their own, is unsure about their options or has a complicated case.
Regular changes to Australian immigration policy also makes expert advice valuable. In April 2017, the Australian Government announced that the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (457 visa) will be abolished and replaced with the completely new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa in March 2018..
How do I choose a migration agent?
It’s important to choose the right migration agent for your situation. When searching for an agent, remember that all migration agents operating in Australia must be registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA).
When choosing an agent, consider whether you need:
- Advice about visa options.
- Assistance lodging a visa application.
- An agent specialising in a specific visa type.
- A legally qualified agent.
- An agent who speaks your language.
You can then search for migration agents in your area and ensure that they meet your criteria. You can search for migration agents in Australian major cities here.
How much does a migration agent cost?
Whilst there is no set fee for how much a migration agent will cost you, some elements may impact the price. These include:
- What type of visa you are applying for.
- How complicated your case is.
- Whether you have any dependents listed on your application, such as children.
- The experience and qualifications of your agent (if your agent is a lawyer or has many years of experience, their fees may be higher).
It’s a good idea to talk to a few agents about their services and the fees they charge before you commit to one and enter into a written contract with them.
I've got a migration agent. What now?
- Contracts and fees. Once the agent has agreed to help you, they will provide you with a written agreement containing the details of their services and will let you know how much their services will cost. All agents have a Code of Conduct that they must abide by. They must also give you a Consumer Guide that outlines what you can expect from your agent.
- Progress reports. Your agent must let you know in writing about the progress of your application. Talk to your agent about how much time the process is expected to take and what the steps will be, so that you know what to expect. Your agent must inform you of the outcome of your application as soon as possible.
- Conflict of interest. Your agent must put your legitimate interests above their own and avoid situations where there is a conflict of interest.
- Termination of contract. If your agent terminates your contract, they must first give you reasonable written notice. Your agent must return to you, within seven days, any documents that belong to you. However, if your agent is a lawyer, they can claim a lien (a form of security over an item until a debt is paid) for any outstanding fees you need to pay.
Will a migration agent fast-track my application?
No. A migration agent cannot influence the outcome or fast-track the processing of your application or guarantee you a visa. However, they may make the application process easier for you, which could potentially save you time.
Do I have to use a migration agent?
No. The Immigration Department accepts all lodged applications, regardless of who lodges them. You are able to lodge any kind of visa application or asylum claim yourself and most applications can be lodged online.
Can I use a migration agent from outside of Australia?
Yes. Migration agents outside of Australia can provide the same services as registered Australian migration agents. However, it’s important to note that agents outside of Australia are not registered with the Australian Government. Some overseas agents may have an overseas agent ID number, but this is an administrative number and not a guarantee of quality. It’s a good idea to find an overseas migration agent with accreditation issued by an authority in their country.
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