Migrating is a big step in your life. A lot of people choose to migrate for a better job and improved living conditions for themselves and their families. However, migrating can be a complicated process and applying for a visa can be stressful and time-consuming. This article sets out the advantages of using a migration agent or immigration lawyer to help you through this process.
What is the Difference Between an Immigration Lawyer and a Migration Agent?
Migration agents, registered with the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA) can:
- provide advice on visa requirements;
- assist with lodging visa applications; and
- deal with the Department of Home Affairs on your behalf.
Migration agents typically complete a 12 month certificate or diploma in Australian Migration Law with a tertiary institution. Following this, they are able to register with MARA and practise as a migration agent.
However, many lawyers are also migration agents. If a lawyer wants to become a migration agent and practise immigration law, they must also register with MARA. Furthermore, immigration lawyers usually retain dual registration to provide immigration advice and assistance. However, unlike migration agents without legal qualifications, immigration lawyers can also appeal cases in courts such as the Federal Court or High Court.
Overall, here are the key similarities and differences between migration agents and immigration lawyers:
|Migration Agents||Immigration Lawyers|
|Qualifications||Completed a 12 month certificate or diploma in Australian Migration Law||Completed a law degree and Practical Legal Training|
|Registration||Registered with MARA||Registered with the Legal Admissions Board, the Law Society and MARA|
|Administrative Appeals Tribunal||Can assist with visa applications and merits review in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal||Can assist with visa applications and merits review in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal|
|Other courts||Cannot assist with appeals to Australian courts||Can assist with appeals to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia (FCCA), the Federal Court of Australia (FCA) and the High Court of Australia|
Therefore, it is important to ensure the migration agent or lawyer you engage is qualified for your specific case.
Why Use a Migration Agent or Immigration Lawyer?
Firstly, with about 100 visa subclasses available in Australia, it can be hard to navigate which visa subclass is most appropriate for you. It may seem like you are saving money by completing the application yourself. However, if your application is refused, it can be very costly. Some visa applications can cost more than $8,000. Refunds for lodging the application are only available in limited circumstances. Furthermore, if you are a business or employer, you must also pay the SAF Levy. The SAF Levy contributes to the Skilling Australians Fund to help support Australian jobs. A refund for this levy is also only available in limited circumstances if the Department of Home Affairs refuses your application. In addition, if you appeal your case in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, this could also increase your costs.
Avoid Lengthy Delays
Secondly, an experienced migration agent or immigration lawyer can prepare your application and make it ‘decision ready’ for the case officer assigned to your matter. If you have left out any important information or documents in your application, it could delay the process. You may receive:
- a request for information (RFI);
- PIC 4020 invitation to comment; or
- a request to respond to natural justice letters.
If you are unsure how to reply to these letters or what to do in these situations, it can be an overwhelming and stressful experience. Furthermore, a well-prepared application is more likely to be successful.
Thirdly, the Department often refuses visas because employers and individuals do not meet the eligibility criteria. Investing in an initial consultation to explore your eligibility and visa options with your migration agent or lawyer will confirm:
- your suitability;
- your likely prospects of success;
- the costs involved;
- the process and duration.
Each case is different and can present its own unique challenges and obstacles. Therefore, a migration agent or lawyer will identify the legal issues in your case and present you with practical solutions.
Take Out the Stress
Finally, there is no doubt that migrating is a stressful experience. When you use a migration agent or immigration lawyer, you are guided each step of the way.
Overall, even though there are fees involved if you decide to hire an immigration lawyer or migration agent, the benefits may outweigh the cost. Therefore, an immigration lawyer or migration agent can:
- firstly, help you determine what type of visa you need;
- secondly, assess your suitability;
- thirdly, ensure you have included all necessary documentation in your application; and
- finally, save you unnecessary stress.
Therefore, if you are applying for a visa or need help appealing your application, you can contact LegalVision’s immigration lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.
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