Are you considering working in Australia, or perhaps migrating here?Migration is a profoundly life changing experience. The decision to migrate to Australia can be costly and complex. This all means it is important that assistance is sought from a highly qualified, regulated professional. This leads to the question – is a Migration Agent or Immigration Lawyer better?
Steps involved in a visa application
The first step is to find a suitable visa for your stay in Australia. Navigating the visa system can be a complicated process.
Next, you need to prepare the application and gather the relevant documentation to support your application.
Once you’ve lodged the application, you’re not done yet! There are often more things to do even after lodgement of the application, and the processing time can drag on for years.
Many people choose to pay for the services of a migration expert to assist them with these processes. But you’ve Googled around, and now you’re wondering – is a Migration Agent or Immigration Lawyer better?
What is a Migration Agent?
The Office of the Migration Agents Regulation Authority (O’MARA) require that all Registered Migration Agents (RMA’s) in Australia complete specialised studies in Australian Migration Law and Practice. Agents must be qualified and demonstrate to the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (O’MARA) that they:
- have sufficient knowledge of migration law and procedures
- are a person of integrity
- are a fit and proper person to provide immigration assistance.
Agents can advise if your visa application is likely to succeed, but they do not make visa decisions and cannot influence outcomes. Only the Department of Home Affairs (the Department) makes decisions about visa applications.
It is against the law for someone in Australia who is not registered with the O’MARA to provide you with immigration assistance.
A Registered Migration Agent can only work in the migration law field with their registration – meaning that it is likely to be their full time work. Therefore, they live and breathe visa applications. They are likely to have a lot of practical experience.
Registered Migration Agents can assist you with the planning of your visa pathway, putting together your application, lodging it on your behalf, and post-lodgement work. Should you have a visa refusal, a RMA can also assist you with your appeal at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).
Migration Agents are bound by the Code of Conduct, which can be found on the website of O’MARA: Code of Conduct
What is an Immigration Lawyer?
A lawyer can currently only assist with visa applications if they have also registered as a migration agent. This means that they are legal practitioners who have done additional work, allowing them to register as a Migration Agent.
A lawyer who is also an RMA can assist you with the planning of your visa pathway, putting together your application, lodging it on your behalf, and post-lodgement work. Should you have a visa refusal, an Immigration lawyer can also assist you with your appeal at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). Something that they can do, which an RMA cannot, is act on your behalf in court.
A downside to using an immigration lawyer is that they may also spend a percentage of their week working in other areas of the law. This means that they may not be as experienced with parts of the process as a migration agent will be.
Using an agent or lawyer for visa applications will not influence the outcome of applications or speed up the process. However, it could mean less work and hassle for you.
The bottom line – Migration Agent or Immigration Lawyer?
The bottom line is that although a lawyer can assist you if your case eventually needs to be appealed in the court system – not many people need this kind of assistance when they’re applying for a visa.
Both a Registered Migration Agent (RMA) and an Immigration Lawyer is capable of assisting you with your visa application process. When considering whether to use a Migration Agent or Immigration Lawyer – one is not necessarily better than the other.
Our advice to you before you engage either an RMA or an Immigration Lawyer is to do the following:
- Find someone you feel comfortable with. Pick up the phone and make some calls. You will likely spend quite a bit of time dealing with your representative, so it is imperative that you have good rapport with your agent/lawyer
- Set your budget, and do some research. Request quotes and develop an idea of what industry standards are. That way, you will know if you receive a quote that is ridiculously high. Remember – paying exorbitant fees does not necessarily mean you are getting better service.
- Read the reviews. Reviews are a great way to learn what people have experienced while using the services of an agent/lawyer.
- Ask your friends! Use your network to find out who your friends, colleagues, family members, etc, have used for their process. This is a great starting point for finding someone to assist you.
Call MyPath Migration for an obligation-free chat!
Feel free to call us for a chat – we are happy to talk you through what we can offer you.
Call us today on +61431 115 195, or use our Contact form.