When is the best time to get professional help with visa applications?

For visa applications, you have the option to either lodge on your own or get advice and/or assistance from migration advisers. If you are going for the latter option, you might be wondering at which part of the application process should you start getting professional help. Here are five scenarios on when you should consider engaging with a Registered Migration Agent or an Immigration Lawyer.

1. When you do not know the available visa pathways for you.
You might have a specific objective on why you plan to come to Australia. For example, you plan to work and live here permanently. However, you do not have any idea on how to start. You are eager to know which visas are available for yourself.
You can find visa information on the Department of Home Affairs’ website, but it can be difficult to see which ones you can be eligible for. At this very early stage, it is essential to get advice based on your unique circumstance from a Registered Migration Agent or an Immigration Lawyer so that your visa options can be discussed and you can uncover strategies on how you can achieve your objectives.
Note that getting free advice from the wrong sources can lead to unnecessary spending. One example that I can think of is, students who have been led astray by their advisers, studied for many years for courses they do not need (spending thousands of dollars), when they are eligible for Permanent Residency even before they were advised to study in Australia.

2. When you have done your own research but have been presented with conflicting information.

This is quite a common experience from people whose source of visa information is the internet, visa groups on Facebook, visa forums, or from other people who have lodged their visas in the past. Some people have become visa experts overnight just because they had lodged their own visa they started giving unsolicited advice on social media platforms or personally advising their friends and relatives based on their own experience. These people might genuinely intend to help; however, their help can have adverse effects on your visa application if it is not based on the correct and current legislation applicable to your case. The visa legislation changes so frequently and that the law can apply differently depending on each visa applicant’s circumstance. It does not mean that your visa will get granted because your classmate’s or friend’s visa was granted.
Also note that in Australia, it is illegal to give advice or assistance on visa matters if you are not a Registered Migration Agent or an Immigration Lawyer.

3. When you do not have time to prepare and lodge your own visa.
You might know exactly what to do but you just do not have the time to manage your application. Visa applications can take a chunk of your time especially that it is not something you do every day. Better leave it to the experts and focus on your own tasks.

4. When your case is not straightforward.

Straightforward cases can mean that you satisfy all the criteria of the visa you are applying for and that you have all the required supporting evidence. For complex cases (for example, you had a previous visa refusal/cancellation and you are applying for another visa or you cannot provide some of the required documents/information for your application), it is best to seek advice first so you can get an idea on how your application should be carried out and then decide whether you will choose a Registered Migration Agent or an Immigration Lawyer to act on your behalf.

5. When you cannot bear the risk of getting a visa refusal.

You might have applied for temporary visas (tourist visa or student visa) on your own and you are now planning to lodge your Permanent Residency visa. Most people prefer to get assistance on their PR visa applications because getting a refusal can have a huge impact on the applicant’s future and it is also expensive to apply for another PR visa again or apply for an appeal.
Getting visa advice and assistance does not guarantee that your visa application will be granted but if your Registered Migration Agent or Immigration Lawyer presents your application in the best light, your chance of getting a visa grant might be better.

Whenever you are unsure of anything regarding your visa application, it is best that you seek professional help. Investing a few hundreds of dollars on getting the correct advice can save you thousands of dollars in the future.