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, the applicant themselves can prepare visa applications. However, you should be aware of the advantages and risks of applying for a visa on your own.
In the following sections below, 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.
1. You save on Registered Migration Agent’s (RMA) or an Immigration Lawyer’s professional fee.
Applying for a visa in Australia can cost anywhere between $145 (for a visitor’s visa offshore application) up to about $40,000 (for a Contributory Parent visa). This is the range of the visa application charges (VAC) payable to the Department of Home Affairs (DHA). Now, if you get the assistance of an RMA or an Immigration Lawyer, you then still have to pay professional fees on top of the VACs. Professional fees vary from one service provider to another, depending on the work that needs to be done on a case. It also depends on the level of expertise of your adviser.
2. You have a direct communication path with the Department of Home Affairs.
When you apply on your own, you get all the correspondence about your application directly from DHA, 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) without going through your RMA or Immigration Lawyer.
1. 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 that you are not eligible for will lead to a refusal of your application. This means that your VACs will not be refunded. You will then have a record of a visa refusal that 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 advice on your visa options. A good RMA or an Immigration Lawyer can recommend visas pathways for you and explain how you can satisfy the visa requirements.
2. You might miss important deadlines pertaining to your application.
Everyone’s busy, and it is easy to miss an email. There are visa applicants who got refused because they did not respond to a request for additional information from their Case Officer within the prescribed period. If you have someone who is assisting you in your visa application, it forms part of their obligations that they should be responding to your Case Officer within the prescribed time limits and they will communicate with your Case Officer if you need to request for extension.
3. 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 DHA’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 got some clients who came to me after their visa application was refused just because they were not able to provide a document along with their application.
The DHA is not obliged to ask for any additional information or documents they need when processing your application. They have the option to contact you and request additional information, or they can decide to refuse your application straight away.
A good RMA or an Immigration Lawyer is your advocate and will strive to lodge your application in the best light. They also have the skills and knowledge in presenting a complete application, where all the required forms and documents are consistent with each other and can justify how you satisfy all the criteria of the visa you are applying for.
The visa applicant’s decision on whether to get assistance or to manage their own application depends on their unique circumstance, their time available to prepare their own application, their confidence in understanding the visa application requirements, and their financial capacity.