By Johanna Nonato
Many clients ask me this question: Why would I get assistance on my visa application when I can do it on my own? My usual answer is, yes, visa applications can be done by the applicant themselves but you should be aware of the advantages and the risks of applying for a visa on your own.
I will enumerate and discuss the advantages and the risks of preparing and submitting visa applications without the assistance of a Registered Migration Agent or an Immigration Lawyer.
You do not have to pay for a Registered Migration Agent’s (RMA) or an Immigration Lawyer’s professional fee.
Applying for a visa in Australia can cost anywhere between $135 (for a visitor’s visa) up to $40,000 (for a Parent visa). This is the range of the visa application charges (VAC) payable to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP). Now, if you get the assistance of an RMA or an Immigration Lawyer, then you still have to add up professional fees on top of the VACs. Professional fees vary from one service provider to another. You can get the average professional fee charges at the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA) as shown on this link: https://www.mara.gov.au/using-an-agent/working-with-your-agent/agent-fees/
You have a direct communication path with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
When you apply on your own, you get all the correspondence about your application directly from DIBP or from your assigned Case Officer or the team handling your application. This means that you will instantly know the progress of your application (whether it was received, or if your Case Officer needs more information, or if your application has been decided upon).
You might apply for a visa that you are not eligible for.
There are many Australian visa options that you can choose from. However, it can be difficult to see (on your own) which visa you can be eligible for. Applying for a visa which you are not eligible for will lead to a refusal of your application. This means that your VACs will not be refunded and you will now have a record of visa refusal which will show up each time you apply for any other Australian visa.
RMAs and Immigration Lawyers have the knowledge and expertise to assess your case and give you legal advice on your visa options. A good RMA or an Immigration Lawyer can recommend visa options for you and explain how you can satisfy the visa requirements.
You have a higher chance of providing incorrect or incomplete information.
Many people think that applying for a visa is just filling out forms and putting together all the required documents. However, you should ask yourself if you understand the questions on the forms and if providing all the requested documents from the checklist you found on the DIBP’s website is enough.
I have clients who come to me when they have done some parts of their visa application and get stuck on a few questions that they are unsure how to answer. I also get some clients who come to me after their visa application was refused just because they were not able to provide a document along with their application.
The DIBP is not obliged to ask for any additional information or documents they need when they are processing your application. They have the option to contact you and request for additional information or they can decide to refuse your application.
A good RMA or an Immigration Lawyer is trained to present a complete application (where all the required forms and documents are consistent with each other along with a summary of how you satisfy all the visa criteria) with the objective of lodging your application in the best light.