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Hi guys,

First off, let me tell you how amazing it has been to have read all the advice, tips and experiences of others going through the daunting process of visa applications.

I am currently on the working holiday visa, however i am going to be lodging my application for the de facto partner visa in February. Unfortunately, time is an issue, as my 6 months with my employer is up in April 2013 and so i am trying my best to get a decision ready application prepared.

I was wondering if you guys could advise on your experience of using immigration agents/lawyers? I have been quoted $1850 and advised that all of her applications (as they are decision ready) have been returned in 3-4 months rather than the 13+ months processing time being quoted at present.

$1850 is not a small amount of money to me, especially considering i will be paying the $4000 odd dollars in February for the visa itself. I just wanted to hear you guys experience of using immigration agents and whether you felt they really did help the application process or were they a waste of money? Is $1850 a reasonable quote or should i look for a cheaper lawyer?

If anyone has any names of lawyers/agencies which have been really good in the Sydney region, that would be great too.

Any stories/hints/tips would be great, and may even stop my head from imploding with all the hard decisions i am having to make.
 

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Hi Visavie

I posted something similar to this topic recently, so I've truncated what I wrote for you.

Hope it helps.

... The people that need immigration assistance are those that cannot (or prefer not to) do it themselves. It's a matter of filling out forms and providing information and a request (by application) to DIAC to enter and / or remain in Australia.

The case officers will make a decision based on the information the applicant / sponsor has supplied.
The Migration Legislation and Regulations are the "rules" so to speak. Within the department they have adopted these "rules" to form internal guidelines and they would call these "Policy", these are their guidelines to make their decisions.

DIAC have a very informative website that has most of the information available online if you are comfortable with conducting research online.

So if you can
1) Read and understand the "rules" (Migration Legislation and Regulations)
2) Fill out the forms
3) Supply the requested documentation
4) Lodge the application according to the "rules"
For a general application (no complexities) you should be okay to do it yourself.

The place where sponsors / applicants become stuck are when they have not followed the "rules" (i.e. lodged the wrong form, lodged it to the wrong processing centre, paid the incorrect fee, misunderstood the question, did not answer all the questions, did not supply correct documents, etc…)

Basically, the "rules" are generally all there for you to read, understand and follow, people with a competent command of English can probably do it themselves, in my experiences over the years in the field, the people that need the help are the ones that have limited English or unable to comprehend and follow the "rules".

This is where an agent / lawyer comes in, their job is to know the "rules", (this is what they do for a living), but like any profession some practitioners know it better than others. Also keep in mind, any paid work: Time = $$ so if you're looking for an agent / lawyer to hold your hand and spoon feed you, be prepared to pay a little more, than the ones that only contacts you if they need something.

Also, don't be too set on your mind if an agent / lawyer is good or not based on referral, it also comes down to personal preference, some people like a no BS (tell me what I have to do) type and some people like the I'll tell you everything and you can make a decision & everything will be ok type.

Make sure you talk to the agent / lawyer before you commit to anything. An agent / lawyer cannot charge you for anything unless you agree to the fees first.

Don't feel pressured to sign up for anything unless it's you that's making the decision to do so. Like any business deal, don't fall for the, "If you sign up today, I'll give you a once off discount of 20%, etc…). If they genuinely want your business they will need to earn your trust and respect. Don't always go for the cheapest one either; sometimes the cheapest can also end up the most costly.

Immigration advice field does not have its professional fees regulated; it's up to the agent / lawyer to name their price. This can vary depending on the agent / lawyer's experience, overheads, how much they think their services are worth and what price is tolerated in the market.

For example:
You'll probably find a city based firm with a flash office more expensive than a sole trader (home office) operated agent / lawyer. I'm not saying either would be better or worse, but there is the impression that a city based firm probably pumps outs more applications so has more experience or if there are multiple practitioners in the firm then they might have more of a combined knowledge than a sole trader.

That said, I do know of some sole traders that can give a few city based firms a good run for their money.

Use your own good judgement to decide if doing it yourself is for you or not.

FTR: MARA (Regulations board for Registered Migration Agents and Immigration Lawyers) have a website that gives the average price for what is currently being charged by agents / lawyers.
https://www.mara.gov.au/Consumer-Information/What-does-it-cost-to-use-an-Agent-/default.aspx
According to this report, $1,850.00 seems to be a fair price to have a decision ready application done for you. That said, it's personal choice as to whether it's worth it or not.

Some people might think $1,850.00 is a steal if they have no hope in the world completing the application themselves, some people would call it "highway robbery".

Like anything in life, we make choices based on its value to us, what are you willing to forego in return for the benefit of something else. In this case, it's someone else's time and expertise for your hard earned $$.

Please do not use this as gospel, these are just general areas where I see clients become stuck and thought it might help.
Questions you ask yourself can be:
1) Are you willing and able to research everything you need to know about your migration options?
a. Don't just look at one visa, there may be other better options
2) Do you understand the "rules"? (Migration Legislation / Regulations)
3) Can you apply the "rules" to your situation?
4) Do you understand and be able to competently answer what is being asked on the application?
5) Do you know / Can you supply the evidence / supporting documents DIAC are asking for?
6) Are you willing to check that you've followed all the "rules" DIAC have set out?
7) Are you willing to check, check, triple check all your work?

If you've answered "YES" to all these questions confidently, you should be good on a non-complex application.
If you've answered "NO" to any of these questions, then I'm not saying your application will fail, but you might not be giving yourself the best opportunity to optimise your migration prospects and you should seek a second opinion.

So back to what I said, originally… if you decide "doing it on our own" is not how you want to do it, make sure you talk to the agent / lawyer.

Another good thing to ask while I'm at it is, "Who would be looking after your file?" It might be a very charismatic person that selling you the service (and has sold you on hello) and to your shock and horror you might end up with an agent / lawyer not to your satisfaction.

Some agents / lawyers offer free initial consultations; some offer it for a small fee to filter the people that are just "fishing" for information with no intention to commit. Please remember that agents / lawyers are running a business. If they are in a high traffic area, with high rent and overheads, they cannot afford to entertain non-fee paying people, so if you're serious about getting help, then paying a small fee should not be an issue.

You'll find the ones that offer free initial consultations probably don't tell you much more than you already know anyway. If they do, then that's a bonus and if you're in the market for an agent / lawyer, these are the ones I would underline amongst the ones that you have tested with a tricky question to see if they know more than you or not.

You can ask about their experience, some agents / lawyers only practice in particular subclasses (visas). So disappointment for one person might be a blessing for another if it happens to be their area of expertise. If you're particularly concerned, you can ask them how long they've been practicing or to be cheeky, I think some of you have already noticed, if you look at their registration number it's a 7 digit number, the first two digits was when they registered. That said, that is not always correct as they might have had a break from practicing and only recently registered again, so the best thing to do is to talk to agent / lawyer.

Even if they are the best agent / lawyer on the market and know everything, you might just not like the way they treat you.

Hope this brings you some clarity and good luck with your migration prospects.
 

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Hi guys,

First off, let me tell you how amazing it has been to have read all the advice, tips and experiences of others going through the daunting process of visa applications.

I am currently on the working holiday visa, however i am going to be lodging my application for the de facto partner visa in February. Unfortunately, time is an issue, as my 6 months with my employer is up in April 2013 and so i am trying my best to get a decision ready application prepared.

I was wondering if you guys could advise on your experience of using immigration agents/lawyers? I have been quoted $1850 and advised that all of her applications (as they are decision ready) have been returned in 3-4 months rather than the 13+ months processing time being quoted at present.

$1850 is not a small amount of money to me, especially considering i will be paying the $4000 odd dollars in February for the visa itself. I just wanted to hear you guys experience of using immigration agents and whether you felt they really did help the application process or were they a waste of money? Is $1850 a reasonable quote or should i look for a cheaper lawyer?

If anyone has any names of lawyers/agencies which have been really good in the Sydney region, that would be great too.

Any stories/hints/tips would be great, and may even stop my head from imploding with all the hard decisions i am having to make.
Hi There,

Firstly I would say please be very careful if there are promising being made of any application coming back in a shorter time frame as they would not be worth the paper they are written on. If this has happened I have to say this is wonderful BUT I feel it would be more a case of luck than due to the immigration agent as they have no more pull or influence over the processing time that we do.

If you are looking for a GREAT agent in the Sydney area and one that is honest, fair, upfront and will join you in a partnership for this visa process you should not go past speaking to Mark Northham who is a member of this forum.

Mark spends time in this forum giving free advice from his wealth of knowledge and if I ever needed the services of an agent I would not think twice to put my trust and my future in his capable hands.
 

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I am currently on the working holiday visa, however i am going to be lodging my application for the de facto partner visa in February. Unfortunately, time is an issue, as my 6 months with my employer is up in April 2013 and so i am trying my best to get a decision ready application prepared.
Sorry, I might just be slow due to lack of sleep, but after applying in February wouldn't you be getting a Bridging Visa A with no work restrictions anyway? Or am I remembering this wrong?
 
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