Lawyer Stephanie Chia takes a look at the complexity of the Australian visa system and how best to navigate your way through it …and who to get help from to achieve a realistic and stress free outcome.

To legally enter and explore the attractive sandy shores of Australia, you need to be an Australian Citizen or a person who holds a valid visa. If you are not a citizen, you need to hold a visa that allows entry and stay in Australia, whether it is for one day, a few years or indefinitely.

Australia’s Migration Programme is carried out by the Australian Government’s Department of Home Affairs. It has been known by different names in the past – the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP). The changes in its name have generally reflected the current waves in migration trends, social policies and public sentiments towards the Migration Programme as a whole.

How to Apply for a Visa
To apply for a visa that allows you entry into Australia, it will depend on what you intend to achieve in the Land Down Under. Many young students from other countries apply for a working holiday visa, and find themselves working hard to earn a decent wage in regional farms, often staying with the farmers and getting a first hand taste of what it feels like to ‘live in the bush’! This is a great way for students to earn money as it is seasonal and therefore no long term commitment is needed.  

Others turn up in airports on visitor visas which allow them to take a well-deserved holiday in Australia and engage in sightseeing, or visiting family and friends. Some may even be flying in to meet up with a love met and nurtured online!

Overwhelmingly, a lot of people all over the world want to move to Australia and make it their homes permanently. Australia is attractive due to its reputation as a safe, fair and systematic country to raise a family that has an enviable place amongst the world’s big players.

The criteria to being selected for Australia’s permanent residency visas has increasingly become more difficult throughout the years, as the world’s social climate and policies shift quickly around us. Most potential applicants are assessed strictly through a dazzling array of selection criteria that may be a challenge to navigate, and they are not always for the faint-hearted.
Even choosing the relevant visa to apply for requires a certain amount of research and determination.

To start off with, it may be well worth a click to https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/Trav.
Here you’ll see that there are broad categories which list the relevant visas within them in order to help you focus on what you should be applying for. Be really sure of what you want to achieve.

Many potential applicants wring their arms up in despair at the sheer amount of visa options before them, and this is even more challenging for anyone who does not understand the English Language in other parts of the world.

How To Find Great Professionals To Help You
The complexity involved in visa navigation and its subsequent application process has created a demand for professional visa expertise and advice. The Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA) was created as an authority body to regulate the profession of Migration Agents.

It is highly advised that anyone seeking the services of a Migration Agent should ensure that the Migration Agent is registered and listed on https://www.mara.gov.au/. As a Registered Migration Agent (RMA) with OMARA, an applicant will be able to lodge a complaint if the appointed RMA is not doing a good job. It is also a good practice to check if the RMA is listed on the suspended or barred listing before engaging them, as they are not be able to provide immigration advice.

Legal Practitioners in Australia are also eligible to provide immigration advice. However, they must hold a current legal practising certificate, and be registered with OMARA. Legal Practitioners, or Immigration Lawyers, are usually engaged as a result of a difficult visa application, a visa application rejection, or a visa application which requires judicial review.

Many potential applicants mull between engaging an RMA or an Immigration Lawyer. Like all service providers across all industries, there are stellar examples and awful representatives of each service provider wherever one goes. In fact, it can become quite subjective as one client raves about a great RMA, and another client begs to differ. Another may only swear by Immigration Lawyers, and yet another may avoid them due to the fees they charge.

I have seen many applicants’ cases fall to pieces due to incompetent service providers, and this has happened with RMAs and Immigration Lawyers alike. This has grave consequences which applicants have never been advised of or likely to expect. A careless application costs money, but most importantly, time. Visas are highly dependent on time-sensitive criteria that rely heavily on age, working experiences and occupations, just to state a few. They shift rapidly due to Australia’s employment needs, social climate and other pressures. Some visas are scrapped altogether, and some visas are created in the meantime. If you miss out, you miss out completely! Therefore, potential applicants should not jump into choosing a service provider recklessly.

Good luck, and if you have any general questions about migration just drop me a line in the area underneath.

Hey and don’t forget to check out all the fabulous FAMILY LAW resources we have online HERE

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Written by The Legal Eagle