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Visa applicants urged to check migration agent and visa costs

Posted on October 14, 2014
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People considering using a migration agent to sort out their Australian visa are being advised to make sure they are registered and also to check out costs.

All legitimate migration agents in Australia are registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority.  The Department of Immigration and Border Control (DIBP) also advises that people should find out in advance what fees they will charge.

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.

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.

The 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.

Some agents also 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.

The DIBP advises using the initial consultation as an opportunity to ask the agent for a written estimate of their fees. This will give you an idea of how much you need to pay altogether and what you are paying for. This should include the visa application charge and all other fees required to be paid. Professional fees are usually charged by the hour or by the service provided.

As well as the fees paid to your agent, applicants also need to pay a fee to the DIBP for their 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.

If you decide you want to accept the agent’s estimate of fees, you will be asked to sign an ‘Agreement for Services and Fees.’ This agreement should set out the services to be performed, the fees for those services and disbursements.

‘Do not pay your agent until you have read, understood and agreed to the Agreement for Services and Fees,’ added the DIBP spokesman.

There are over 5,000 registered migration agents in Australia.

RAY CLANCY

For more news and updates, assistance with your visa needs or for a Free Assessment of your profile for Immigration or Work Visa’s just visit www.y-axis.com

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