The Australian Department of Immigration and Border control (DIBP) has this week urged all prospective migrants and those applying for visas in the temporary visa stream to ensure that they are making use of a immigration practitioner.
This warning comes on the back as cases of fraudulent immigration practitioners, exploiting unsuspecting visa applicants, are being exposed.
Applicants are also encouraged to confirm the cost of the visa and the consulting fee, before handing over any cash, to ensure that they are not paying more than they should for these visas.
“Registered migration agents can only charge a fee that is fair and reasonable. The fees charged by migration agents vary. This is because an agent’s fee depends on the type of visa you are applying for and the level of service you want,” said a DIBP spokesman.
A professional visa consultant also said that the fees can also be affected by the complexity of a visa application and the experience and qualifications of the agent. “For example, if an agent is a lawyer, a specialist, or has many years of experience, their fees might be higher,” said the consultant.
The DIBP spokesman pointed out that, “Many agents offer to discuss a visa application in an initial consultation before the applicant decides to use them.
“This can happen face to face, over the telephone, or via internet links depending on where you are. These initial consultations can be provided free or for a fee. If it’s not clear, you should find out from the agent before the consultation whether or not you will be charged for it,” he explained.
He also said that prospective applicants should explore the internet for consultants who provide an online form on their website that assesses an applicant’s eligibility for a visa.
“Just like an initial consultation, some agents offer this service free while others charge for it. The agent’s website should indicate whether you have to pay for the online assessment,” said the spokesman.
It would be a good idea for prospective migrants to use the first consultation with the immigration consultants to establish the agent’s fees and should ask for a written breakdown of all fees to be paid during the application process.
This will give you an idea of how much you need to pay and the fees payable to the DIBP for your visa. This is known as a visa application charge (VAC). Visa application charges will vary depending on the type of visa you are applying for and may change from time to time.
“Many agents will pay the visa application charge on your behalf, but this will be in addition to the fee they charge you for their services. This is called a disbursement. Remember also that you may need to pay your agent any credit card charges they have incurred in paying the visa application charge,” added the spokesman.