You do not have to use a migration agent to get a visa for Australia, you can do it yourself. But we did use one. Why?
Although my wife’s skill was on the Skilled Occupations List, she did not have a recognised qualification for it so her skill had to be independently assessed before we could take our application further. I was over the maximum age limit, so with those two factors combined, we felt our application wasn’t straightforward.
Engaging a migration agent to help us gave us the comfort of knowing that our application, when it was finally sent off, was sound and did have a good chance of success. This is because any MARA registered migration agent has a duty to ensure that all applications they send to the Australian Government have a realistic chance of approval.
In fact, I believe that if any MARA registered agent continually submits poor applications, they will find themselves in danger of having their licence taken away from them.
Can you recommend a MARA registered migration agent?
Yes I can. I have now been working closely with MARA registered agents on this website since the beginning of 2012 providing personal and professional visa assessments. To find out more about this service, please visit the following page for full details…
What is MARA?
“The Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority is an office attached to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP). We are based in Sydney and operate nationwide.” That’s a quote taken directly from the About Us page from the official site, which you can visit here…
All migration agents in Australia must be registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA).
So, if somebody is not MARA registered, they cannot charge you a fee to help you submit your application, they would be breaking the law here in Australia if they did. But whether you are looking to use an Australian-based agent or an agent from anywhere around the world, it is essential you choose to work with only MARA registered migration agents.
More information can be found by visiting the governments MARA website mentioned above, but if you are looking for professional assistance, I do highly recommend my agent who is MARA registered and Australian-based. There is no need for face to face meetings these days either, everything is done over the Internet and by telephone.
How much will an agent cost?
MARA has a page on their website with a guide to fees…..
How much did my agent cost?
We were charged £1,213.25 including VAT by our MARA registered migration agent, but in addition to this we had to pay £675 including VAT for my wife’s skills assessment. We came over on one of the General Skilled Migration visas. The exchange rate at the time (2007) was around 2.4 to 2.5 AUD to the pound, so we paid something like $3000 to our agent and around $1500 for the skills assessment.
This was excluding government fees.
Looking at the governments price guide, what we paid back in 2007 is pretty much the average of what is currently being charged now by migration agents.
In addition to the fees and charges made by your MARA registered migration agent, should you choose to use one, there will be a fee payable to the Australian Government for your visa.
These fees vary but the government has a page on their website with the details.
Unlike the migration agent fees, the government fees have gone up massively since 2007. Back then we paid a total of $1990 for my wife, myself, and our young daughter. Right now (March 2014) we would be charged $3520 for my wife, $1760 for myself and $880 for my daughter, totalling $6160.
Please bear in mind that these government fees are non-refundable, if your application is declined, you lose all that money. A professionally prepared application lodged through a MARA agent will minimise that risk.
MARA Agents: Payments in advance
Some migration agents ask for quite large and substantial upfront fees before they even look at your details or your situation. This should not be the case and there is no justification for any agent requesting such fees and you should treat any such requests with caution.
Other services offer a “free” assessment, but this is usually just an automated process that takes some basic details and calculates your points. If you score the requested number of points, you are then asked for a sometimes quite substantial sum in advance before they will help you further, again I suggest caution.
Never pay large sums in advance to migration agents, a reasonable deposit, 20% to 40%, should only be paid after the agent has looked at ALL of your details and has informed you, in writing, which visa or visas you might qualify for and the exact costs of applying for those visas, including the agents fees.
With our Visa Assessment Service, you will pay a small fee, but my agent will spend something like a couple of hours looking through all of your information, deciding which options are best for you, putting it all in writing and fully explaining all the costs.
If my agent feels you would not qualify for any visas, he would advise you of what YOU can do to improve your chances of success and, if possible, suggest ways you can achieve a higher points total. My agent would not take on your case if he felt you would not be successful with your application.
Should you decide to use my agent to represent you, your assessment fee is added to your account as a credit towards your costs.
If, for any reason, you are unhappy with the service, I will personally refund your money, I guarantee it.
Here’s one BIG final tip
Google is your friend. No, really! If you are considering using a specific MARA registered agent or company and you want to check them out, simply search for the name of that company followed by the word “reviews”.
You will be amazed by what might come up.
I have been contacted by several disgruntled readers who have paid good money, sometimes a lot of money, to supposedly reputable agents and they’ve received nothing but disappointment.
For each one, if these people had simply Googled the reviews about those companies they would have surely seen the opinions of many disgruntled clients and stayed away.
I suggest you Google first, pay later.