How to Prepare and Submit Your Visa Application
Now that you have hired a migration agent (or lawyer) to prepare and submit your visa application, you and the agent have begun a professional relationship.
Following are tips on how to manage that relationship to better ensure the successful outcome of your visa application.
Ask your agent to outline the process
At the start of the relationship ask your agent for an outline of how the visa process will work and what are its stages, time frames, and deadlines for both you and the agent. At this stage your agent will most likely send you a Checklist of all the information and documents that he or she needs from you to prepare and submit your case. You must give the agent ALL these documents and information in a timely manner. And it is better that they are all submitted at one time. An agent cannot prepare your case without all this information and if it comes in late or in dribs and drabs this can result in valuable time being lost. Your efficient and timely submission of these documents and information is the single most important thing you can do to help your agent and application.
Don’t wait until the last minute
If you submit the requested material near the deadline of your visa submission, you may jeopardise your case. When rushed, mistakes can be made. And neither you nor the agent will have time to deal with unexpected events. For example, the agent’s e-mail server might suddenly go off line, or the Department of Immigration submission site might close for upgrades. Also be aware of public holidays, when the Department and your agency will be closed. You cannot miss your application submission deadline.
Do not give your agent bogus documents or false or misleading information or ask them to lie for you. This is a crime and the consequences for you and your case can be catastrophic. If your lie is discovered, your application will be refused and you could find yourself excluded from the country. An agent can be disbarred and jailed for providing false information. Migration agents take their work and reputation seriously. To do otherwise is to risk their business and livelihood.
If during your application process your agent asks for extra information or documents, reply quickly. And please answer all the agent’s questions and requests.
Know your deadlines
It is vital that you know all the deadlines and due dates of your visa application process. Write them down. Set reminders. Always remember that Immigration Department submission deadlines are carved in stone and can rarely be changed. There is no second chance.
Keep a written record
All the important contact between yourself and the agent should be in writing, so that there is a written record to consult and to remind you—and to be referred to if you have any kind of dispute with your agent. “I said, he said” will not protect you. Read all correspondence from your agent carefully and if English is not your first language get a fluent English speaker to check your agent’s communications. If an agent’s request confuses you, don’t guess its meaning but ask your agent for a clarification in an e-mail. Generally, if you have some understanding of your case, you will contact your agent less with uninformed, time wasting questions. And do not overly listen to the advice of amateurs, whether they be family, friends or Internet sites. Again, research the facts. And when you do write to your agent to update them or to ask questions, please do so in brief, clear and exact language.
If circumstances change, check in
During the visa application process if your life, work or travel circumstances change, check in with your agent to see if these changes influence your case. For example, your leaving Australia for a holiday overseas might jeopardize your new visa request, as might you changing employers or the state where you live in Australia. And if your mobile phone and e-mail contacts change, inform your agent’s office immediately, again in writing.
Your agent must keep you updated
Your agent should update you about the status of your case and if there have been any changes to Australian immigration law or policy that might influence your application. Please remember that agents do know how important your visa is. It is generally best to check in with your agent at times close to important deadlines. For example, send an e-mail query two weeks before your visa submission deadline. And please do ensure that all fees are paid on time. To not do so may slow down the submission of your time-sensitive application and risk it not being lodged on time.
Your agent should outline costs and fees
Yes, your agent does have responsibilities to you. You should expect your agent to give you (in writing) at the time of their hiring an exact outline of all costs and fees and the payment schedule for such. Your agent should be courteous and punctual re any requests or reasonable queries from you. And the agent should, as noted, keep you updated about any immigration law or policy changes that could influence your case. The agent should certainly let you know when your application has been submitted and send you an electronic receipt of that.
Check all the details
If you think something has gone wrong with your case or that your agent has made a mistake, first check the paperwork and correspondence between yourself and the agent. Don’t accuse first; get the facts. If your research indicates that there actually may be a problem, make polite written contact with the agent. This is perhaps best done by asking pertinent questions. In the rare and terrible case that your agent has not met his or her responsibilities and refuses to do so, contact MARA, the government organization that regulates Australia’s migration agents.
Achieving a positive outcome
And finally, remember that no migration agent can 100 percent guarantee that your visa application will be successful, but if you and your agent have a productive relationship the odds of your submission being in its best form and on time is much improved. Good premises re your relationship with your agent and best wishes for your application and new life or experiences in Australia.
Migration Ways, leading immigration agents in Melbourne, can be contacted here.