As we enter a new phase of COVID-19, there are more uncertain times ahead for all of us.  From an immigration perspective, tighter measures are being enforced by Australia’s border security and we urge travelers in and out of the country, to consult with immigration experts if they have concerns or questions about their migration situation.

It is important we share the right information given that government policy is changing rapidly and is having a far-reaching impact on individual movement.

What we do know

  • There are travel bans for those who are arriving (and transiting) from Mainland China, Iran, South Korea, and Italy.  Australian citizens and permanent residents traveling from these countries are exempted from this ban.
  • If you are arriving in Australia from any other country, you are required to self-isolate for 14 days.  Heavy penalties will apply in some States if you do not abide by this guideline;
  • International cruise ships are banned from arriving in Australia for the next 30 days
  • If you are an on-shore tourist visa holder wishing to extend your stay, the Department has put into place some arrangements to grant extensions.  Please contact M Legal should you be considering to extend your stay.    

What we don’t know

  • As the government diverts resources to dealing with the COVID-19 migration matters, it is undetermined whether this will have a major impact on other visa categories processing timeframes
  • If there could be a response by the government to slow down the grant of all temporary visas for individuals applying off-shore
  • What other travel bans are on-foot and will be implemented soon

We highly recommend that you consult M Legal before making travel arrangements or apply for a visa for Australia.  We continue to stay abreast of the latest advice from both the Australian Department of Health and NSW Health as well as the Department of Home Affairs so that we can inform our clients accordingly.

On behalf of everyone in M Legal, we hope you and your family stay safe.

In making the visa application process user-friendly, a false sense of security has emerged that it’s easy to apply for Australian visas. There are certain instances when visas can be straightforward, but every individual’s case is different. With a lack of understanding the layer of laws and policy behind a visa application process, we have witnessed clients bewildered by negative visa outcomes of late.

Australian migration law stems from the Migration Act 1958 (Cth).  The online visa forms that individuals see are the simplified version of these laws. At a glance, these forms are a series of straightforward questions. What is not told to applicants is that each question on the form is crafted to meet a point of law or government policy, determining your visa eligibility. Therefore, there are serious ramifications for missing questions or not answering questions correctly.

A good migration lawyer can safeguard you from making these errors. Even if a client feels they have only received one good piece of advice in the process, this alone can save them the anguish of losing thousands in visa application fees (in most cases which are non-refundable).

Example

To give you an example on how questions can be multifaceted, here is a question that’s commonly asked in permanent residence applications:

‘Non-migrating members of the family unit. Does the applicant have any members of their family unit not travelling to Australia who are not Australian citizens or Australian permanent residents?’

Clients would usually answer ‘no’ to this question if they believe they’ve addressed this earlier by naming accompanying family members. A good migration lawyer would tell you instead that this question is really asking if you have ‘dependant’ family members, such as children or stepchildren remaining in your home country. Why is this an important question? Because if you become a permanent resident, there’s a chance you may eventually bring these children to Australia. Therefore, their health conditions are just as important an issue to address for your application. If any of these ‘unaccompanied’ children are found to have a serious condition, this compromises your whole permanent residency application, even if the rest of your accompanying family are healthy.

Migration law is an expertise built over time and an advisory service that keeps in mind how the relevant legislation applies to each client’s situation. The online form and the Department of Home Affairs’ website is not sufficient to give the full picture. There is quite a great deal of analysis that goes into answering each question on the form and preparing a client’s application to ensure it meets the technical visa requirements. Having a good migration expert to guide you can make a significant difference to your chances of securing an Australian visa.

Please contact M Legal’s immigration lawyer/agent should you wish to discuss your case further.

Migration is an area of law where you can choose either a Migration Agent or Immigration Lawyer (both professionals are registered under the Migration Registration Agent Authority) to represent your case. Both professionals will charge fees according to the type of visa being sought and based on the difficulty of the case.

With the Department of Home Affairs’ visa application fees being so expensive, the cost of engaging an immigration expert, understandably, is the primary consideration for most clients.

Price, however, should not be the primary focus in choosing your expert. Australian migration services are a ‘professional service’ and should be seen in this light given the level of work and technical knowledge required in doing an exceptional job.

After 13 years in this industry and seeing serious mistakes being made in migration cases, I have witnessed damaging outcomes as a result of clients running their own visa cases or engaging the cheapest agent or lawyer, to save costs. By the time cases arrive at my desk, sometimes it’s too late to salvage the situation and rescue the client. A sad and unnecessary state of affairs.

My advice when picking your agent or lawyer is that you conduct a thorough research in the expert’s professional background and the migration firm they work for. You should also consider the below factors, to be in the best position to make a well-informed decision.

Key Questions to ask

At a minimum, before you engage an expert you should consider:

1. Registration: Does the agent or lawyer have the appropriate registration or license to practice in the field and give migration advice?

Migration agents and lawyers should be registered under MARA: www.mara.gov.au

2. Years of experience: How many years of experience does the expert and their firm have in the industry? Furthermore, do they have the expertise to run a case similar to yours?

3. Professionalism: How did the expert conduct themselves during the initial consultation and over the phone. Did they explain all the steps in detail so that you were clearer on the process when you finished the consultation? Did the expert answer your questions and listen to your concerns?

4. Price: Did the expert explain the breakdown of the fees?

5. Integrity: No guarantees or false promises should be made by your agent or lawyer. If they have been quick to guarantee you a successful visa outcome without preparing you for the risks, then be cautious about engaging them to run your matter.

M Legal is a Sydney based firm and focuses on providing expert and professional advice in the area of Australian migration and welcomes the opportunity to have an initial consultation to discuss your migration queries with you.