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    1. #1

      Which Migration Agent?

      Which Migration Agent should you use?

      Everyone has a different point of view on whether you should use an agent and which one you should use. But let's say, for discussion, that you would like to use one.

      There is No rule of thumb for engaging a migration agent, everyone's circumstances are different and all migration agents differ. However in my opinion if you follow the below points, you should be ok.

      1. Understand that you don't have to use an agent if you don't want to. You can complete the necessary paperwork and send off the application yourself. Thousands of people apply for a visa without using an agent. Keep this in mind when doing the following research. If you do use an agent you can change your agent or continue the application yourself at a later date if you wish. However getting the right agent first time will save you a lot of stress and complexity later.
      Check out http://www.immi.gov.au/media/statistics/agent-stats/migration-agent-statistics.htm for the percentage of visas processed by migration agents per visa type.

      2. Get to know the visa process basics, which visa you require, how long the process may take and understand what documentation you will need to provide for a complete application. Having this understanding will provide you with greater confidence in determining if the agent knows what they are talking about.

      The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship has a great website www.immi.gov.au and Visa Wizard to help you identify which visa might be right for you and provides the current rules and regulations for applying for each type of visa. Applying for some types of visas can be complicated, whilst others can be very easy. Think of it like completing a Tax Return, for some people it is easy and uncomplicated and for others they may need specialised help to complete the forms. If you are able to read and understand the official visa documentation, with a degree of confidence, you may be ok to complete the visa paper work and manage the application on your own, if you don't understand the paper work you may have to get some help from a friend or migration agent. You can call the Australian consulate for one to one advice over the phone, regardless of whether or not you have submitted your application or used a migration agent.

      It can take YOU months to get all the required documentation together, such a birth certificate, official qualifications documents and statutory declarations.
      Even if you use an agent, you may have to still get these documents yourself and pay for any fees involved.

      3. Not all agents are created equally. Set aside as much time researching agents as you can, remember migration agents are running a business so they will sell you a good story on how good they are. Think of it like finding a good plumber or builder, there are lots of great and not so great plumbers and builders in the industry, but you want the best one for your circumstances, so don't rush to a decision, take your time, finding a good agent is not a race. You have to live with the consequences if you employ a poor agent.

      4. Don't get sucked in by the flashy websites, anyone with a few pounds/dollars to spare or a few IT skills can get a flashy looking website online within a few days, equally stay away from agents that have external advertising on their website. If they have a professional business model that runs well they shouldn't need external advertising on their website to generate additional revenue.

      5. Choose an agent that is MARA.gov.au registered, regardless of which country they are in.
      Agents located outside Australia are not required to be registered with the Australian Government to act as a migration agent. If an agent is MARA registered, they have proven that they have the capabilities, skills and knowledge to provide migration agent services by the Australian government. Don't forget to check the agent credentials.

      6. Choose an agent that has been registered for a few years, more the better. If they have been in the business for a while, it indicates that they have a sustainable business and they should know what they are taking about.

      7. Speak to multiple agents and asked as many questions as you want. If you can, meet with them face to face on their premises so you can determine if they are a professional organisation and if they fit your requirements. Anyone can sound fantastic over the phone and present a great/practised sales pitch. Remember the visa is more important to you than it is to anyone else, so do your due diligence.

      8. Be clear on timeline and expectations on both sides. Write a time line with the agent and include key milestones and events, you will also need to complete and get documentation for the visa application and once the application is submitted it can take months or longer to be processed. Having a clear understand of expectations and timeline can help with your anxiety and help you determine if the agent knows what they are taking about.

      9. Get customer reviews if you can. If you know what visa you are after focus on those reviews. Check out the website www.migrationagentreviews.com and surf through forums and talk to those who have already been through the process.

      10. Don't be too consumed about fees or getting a low price, getting your visa is a thousand times more important than saving a few pounds / dollars.
      For a baseline of fees, check out

      11. No Visa - No Fee. This is a useful clause in the contract, for the migrant, which generally ensures that the agent only takes on your visa application if they have the skills and confidence that they will be able to obtain you visa.

      12. Only sign a contract when you are ready to do so, get someone with legal knowledge to check the contract before signing, note that this person should be confident in the law in which the contract is governed (UK law, Australian law). Note that some agents sub contract some applications out to other agents from time to time. So make sure that you know which agent (the actual person) is working on your case.

      13. Pay any fees by credit card. If the company goes bust or doesn't provide good services you may have some protection, especially if the company goes bust soon after payment is made.

      Stay on top of the visa process and make sure you keep in regular contact with your migration agent and ask them for updates. You may get forgotten if you don't make any noise.

      This is my point of view, others will have differing opinions, but it is your decision on which agent you use, if you use one at all. The above may put you off using a migration agent, don't let it. The majority of agents are professional and work hard for their customers, just do your due diligence, find a good agent and you should be ok.

      But remember, don't sell your house, don't leave your job. You will only get your visa once it has been granted by the appropriate authorities, not before.

      Good luck.

    2. Moneycorp - Commercial foreign exchange since 1979
    3. #2
      Sound information and good advice, Nicole.
      Thanks for being so detailed and for posting this one!