You want to come to Australia on a visa to work, study, or live perhaps permanently and have absolutely no idea how to do it? With thousands of migrants applying for visas to Australia each year, it is important to ensure your application is perfect because there are so many people trying to get the same thing!
This is where migration agents are incredibly useful to have, you may think you don’t meet the visas criteria or you just have no idea where to start, but with them doing all the work, you would be surprised of the results.
But how can you make sure that you are choosing the perfect migration company or consultant for yourself and are not getting robbed of your money by a dodgy agent?
So to ensure you have a great migration agent on your side, here are our top 10 tips on how to choose the best migration agent for your trip to Australia!
TIP 1 – Watch out for sale/commission driven agents!
This is a huge signal to avoid! When a migration company or agent is trying to make you sign something or puts you under pressure to commit with them, it is best to look choose a different migration agent.
There are some companies that use sale representatives to gather more business flow and will have them working on commission, so they will tell you whatever you want to hear just so you sign or start with them.
There have been cases heard of where these clients unknowingly didn’t even have the requirements for meeting the visa criteria for which they have had already paid for. There is a huge difference with applying for a visa and meeting the criteria for that visa. You can apply for any visa you wish to apply for but if you don’t meet the visa criteria for that specific visa type, you will not be granted your visa. A good migration checks your circumstances and will inform you about whether or not you are eligible to apply for a certain visa.
Visa applicants who don’t qualify for a visa at the time of the agreement are not bound by any contracts as that is basically theft and is wrong for the migration agent to convince their client into paying money for something that the migration agent is aware they won’t receive.
Migration agents in Australia MUST be registered with MARA (Migration Agents Registration Authority) so as to regulate the services provided to potential clients. Migration agents that are NOT registered have their own terms and conditions and nobody to report to, which means that you can’t prosecute them for doing the wrong thing… so it is always better to go with an Australian registered migration agent for your Australian visa. Registered migration agents must adhere to the Code of Conduct and if there are any issues, you can report these and the agent to the Migration Agents Registration Authority.
TIP 2 – Choose a migration agent with experience
It’s not hard to see why this is such a crucial requirement for a migration agent as experience is such a large part of the profession. It is always best to choose a migration agent, who has been in the field for a solid amount of time as they will know from experience exactly what is looked into by Home affairs case workers and what is acceptable to submit in an application.
With legislation and areas in migration continually changing, it is better to trust someone who has experience and is keeping up with the latest immigration changes, than someone freshly graduated still starting out in the business.
Look for a migration agent with at least 5 years of practical experience in the industry. They generally speaking have a better understanding of interpreting the legal requirements in your favour, which will strengthen your visa application.
Granted a more experienced agent will sometimes cost more than an inexperienced one. Depending on your budget you may need to go with someone with slightly less experience, but make sure that they are not charging you the same price a more experienced agent would.
TIP 3 – Look into their customer feedback
This is an absolutely brilliant way to see the success a migration agent has had in the past, go onto the company media pages, website testimonials or their reviews on google to see what previous clients have to say about their services.
Another good way of looking into your migration service is to check in with MARA (Migration Agents Registration Authority)and see if there is any information of value on the company you are interested in.
TIP 4 – Make sure your migration agent is registered
An absolute must to choosing your migration agent is always and we can’t stress this enough to make sure the migration agent is registered!
The difference between a registered and an unregistered agent is
- No CPD (Continuing Professional Development)
- No authority to report to
- Mandatory annual CPD (Continuing Professional Development)
- A relevant authority to report to
- Continual observation and consequences to their actions
How to check if your migration agent is registered?
Follow this link to search the register of registered migration agents. Type in either your migration agent’s name or MARA number. If they are registered you will be taken to their profile. For example, if you type in “Goyal” under “Agent’s Last Name” you will see both our agents show up in the registry (see Praveen Goyal’s registration and Abhinav Goyal’s registration). Once again checking the MARA (Migration Agents Registration Authority)will confirm for you if they are registered.
TIP 5 – Make sure you’re not being charged too much
Often a confusing part of choosing your migration agent, fees are quite varied depending on the visa, circumstance and the experience of the migration agent themselves.
There are a number of factors contributing to what you would be charged such as:
To start the initial contact in discussing your visa and options available, it is common to be charged a fee in doing this which can possibly range anywhere from $50 – $300 or even higher…
We believe in value for money so we offer a discount if you subscribe for our Newsletter (you won’t pay $165 but only $105) and the consultation amount you pay will be deducted anyway from your total costs if you decide to proceed, how good is that! P.S. our partner visa consultations are completely free of charge. The (visa) price you have to pay for love is high enough.
This is where the hard work is mainly put in as it will be where the agent will use their experience and professional training to prepare the application in detail and source all the needed resources to create the best application possible, this can include
- Collecting and reviewing documents
- Providing professional advice
- Communication in depths with Home Affairs case workers
- Providing instructions
- Constantly keeping the client up to date with the process
- Preparing the application in detail
- Researching the circumstances of each visa and providing continual advice to the client
As mentioned before, experienced agents will possibly charge more as their experience can often be invaluable when applying for a visa.
Don’t choose a company based on their size or because their website page is excellent. A large company can sometimes take advantage of their status in the migration world by adding unnecessary fees and charging you because of who they ar. We believe it should be priced on what quality service the company can actually provide.
Try and compare a pricing before just settling with any agency that first pops up on your google search, research is invaluable to get the best bargain.
TIP 6 – Observe their response times
Any registered agent knows how crucial this is as it is actually a part of a migration agents code of conduct to respond to their clients in an efficient manner. So if they take too long in their response times initially, I wouldn’t commit to an agent that has already started taking ages to reply. In the migration industry, where changes can implemented (and we have seen it in the past with the 457 visa being abolished) from one day to the next, it is important you choose a migration agent who is going to update you as soon as possible about changes that might affect your visa application.
It can be a drawn out process and doesn’t say much about their commitment if they are lagging in their answering times. Call and speak to the agents about their times and responses before agreeing to have your visa submitted by them. After all, most visa takes many months to process and you want to make sure you’re in good hands.
TIP 7 – Observe their interpersonal skills
You will be in continuous communication with this person so you want to make sure that they are comfortable to talk to and accommodating to your specific visa needs.
This visa is important to you and your future, so it’s important to have someone who takes your application as seriously as you do. Test their knowledge and see how they reply to you. Make sure the replies are professional and in-depth and easy to understand. After all, you are paying a migration agent to help you ease the immigration process to Australia.
TIP 8 – Read their terms and conditions thoroughly!
Every company will have terms and conditions to their services, some more than others and it is important to make sure you are getting value for the money you pay.
I strongly recommend to read through any agreements and any other terms and conditions they have to ensure that there aren’t any hidden fees or clauses that will either cost you more than intended or will hide the agents away from any blame.
TIP 9 – Misleading immigration Information
It is not a bad thing to verify the information given to you by a migration agent, if something doesn’t sound right especially if it’s your first consultation. Many migration agents who give out false or misleading information are often inexperienced, dodgy or just completely ignorant of what they are talking about
- Making the client anxious enough to enter into an agreement without thinking it through
- Making up things so the migration agent doesn’t look stupid
- Telling the client they have all the requirements for a visa when the agent knows they don’t
- Telling a client information that the agent hasn’t checked themselves
Each client is unique and information cannot be generalized, it is not a bad thing that your migration agent said they need to check something before answering, that is a good sign as they are being upfront and not misleading you.
TIP 10 – Talk to people who have gone through it
If you know someone who has already gone through migration whether it be by themselves or with an agent, ask them for some tips and advice that they found useful on their journey. It might be handy to see what problems they ran into during their visa application and how they dealt with it.
Also why not get a free assessment here right now? The free assessment is just a quick online assessment. All you need to do is answer a few questions to help us understand what visas you might be eligible for. If the options presented to you sound like what you were looking for, we can arrange a consultation with you to discuss them. A consultation has proven to be highly recommended before starting an application, because not only will you get to meet the agent but during a consultation many opportunities tend to come up that give you more visa options.
Guest Blog by Migration Centre of Australia