Moving to a new country, such as Australia can be a daunting prospect without help from an immigration lawyer. Changes to legislation around migration to Australia came into force on 22 March 2021, so the information you may have researched previously might not be relevant depending on who you had taken immigration advice from before.
In this article, we set out the amendment that affects those who can give advice and highlight who can help you now with your visa application.
The Migration Act and Immigration Assistance
Prior to March 2021, only lawyers who were registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA) were able to give help to those seeking a visa to this country or help with other immigration issues. This is known as immigration assistance, where someone uses their knowledge and experience of the migration process to help with visa matters and applications. The ways in which they assist can be by giving advice on your visa application, represent you or help to prepare you if attending court proceedings or a review authority in relation to a visa matter or help to prepare your visa documentation.
The amendments in the Migration Act has clarified exactly who can lawfully help with immigration assistance in Australia so there are a wider range of immigration lawyers who able to help you now with your application. Knowing who to ask for advice from is important because you need to make sure they are legally entitled to give you that advice.
Who Can Give Immigration Assistance?
There are 3 categories of individuals who are lawfully able to give you assistance with your visa applications or other visa matters. The individuals have to be:
- A legal practitioner
- A registered migration agent, or
- An exempt person
A legal practitioner is a lawyer who gives immigration assistance in connection with legal practice, and they don’t need to be registered with OMARA following the March 2021 amendments. They do have to hold an Australian legal practicing certificate (restricted or unrestricted) which has to be granted under a law of an Australian territory or state. A legal practitioner can charge for immigration assistance and you will need to inform the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs, if you have appointed a legal practitioner to work on your behalf. You can also appoint them to receive any immigration documents on your behalf and they can discuss your application with the Government Immigration Department but they will not be able to guarantee your application is successful nor fast track the process.
A Registered Migration Agent
Agents must be registered with OMARA in order for you to enlist their professional help and along with legal practitioners are the only people who can charge for immigration assistance. You must check the OMARA register to ensure the agent you choose is on that list and they will have a Migration Agent Registration Number or MARN and as with the legal practitioner they can act on your behalf. Agents can be registered outside of Australia as well.
An exempt person can be your sponsor, close family member, an MP, or member of a consulate post, or diplomatic mission or member of an international organisation. They should not charge you a fee to help you with your visa application but they may not always be up to speed with changes in migration law nor the application process unlike an immigration lawyer in Melbourne.
Checking Out the Experience of Your Chosen Adviser
Once you have ascertained that the person chosen to help with your visa application is legally allowed to do so, the next thing is to look at what experience they have and their track record and success rates. They must have knowledge of migration law and areas of concerns around visa applications. Look at their website to see if they offer clear and transparent information and are happy to arrange a discussion with you to help guide you through the process.
Ask about their track record and success rate, also how long they have been established which shows they are a stable and solid firm with which to entrust your visa application. Ask about their experience in dealing with Federal Court review applications as well as both temporary and permanent visas including partner applications. You need to feel comfortable that they have not only the legal status to help with the visa, along with the knowledge and expertise but also you are confident they will give you clear and unambiguous advice.
Speak to the professionals today to make a start on your new life in Australia