Unfortunately, it is quite common to hear sad stories of dodgy migration agents taking advantage of vulnerable clients. Such agents put a bad stain on the industry and scare some people off from using migration agents in general. For this reason, Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA) was formed to ensure that only qualified agents of good character who put the interest of the clients first can legally give migration advice.
This article is to help you decide which migration agent is right for you, on your way to a successful Australian Visa application.
Tip 1 - Make Sure they are a Registered Migration Agent
The first step to choosing the right agent is checking that they are registered to the governing body here in Australia. Many bad agents will falsely claim they are registered or say that registered agents are not good, it is advised that you check an Agents registration before you engage in their services.
MARA was set up to ensure that people who give migration advice meet a standard level of quality and adhere to a strict code of conduct. Thereby, minimising the risk to immigrants of being given bad advice.
To be registered an agent must complete a post graduate certificate and attend regular professional development courses to ensure that they are properly equipped to deal with migration cases.
Registered Agents are also recorded on a database which is kept up to date by MARA and can be found on their website.
The database also holds which migration agency or business they currently work for, it may be a red flag that something is a miss if an agency is claiming the services of a migration agent but is not listed on the MARA database.
Tip 2 - Check their credentials and experience (clients, background check, etc)
The internet is a wonderful thing for buyers because information on individuals, companies and services are readily available. As are reviews from past clients. However, be careful with some reviews because they can be easily be faked or may not be a good representation of the business because they maybe biased.
However, the internet is a good place to check up on an agents credentials and any media posts that may have been written by them or about them and if the agent has had a bad past. Make sure though, that your sources are legitimate, and where possible refer to documents or websites run by government bodies or MARA itself.
Did you know you can search for suspended and barred agents on the MARA website as well? It is always best to check here first.
The best form of background check is to ask a friend who may have used the service of the agent before. Good agents have good referrals. If an agents marketing does not match their credentials it could signal a red flag that they might not be trust worthy.
Tip 3 - Check what type of visas they specialise in
There are many different Visa pathways that an immigrant can take to come to Australia depending on their situation. Whilst it is possible that a migration agent can advise in almost all pathways and visa types it is more common to see that migration agents will specialise in a certain type or group of visa pathways. Either by choice or by experience over time.
Generally, speaking it is best to seek out a specialist in the visa pathway that you are looking to enter on, rather than go with a generalist. This is because a specialist would have dealt with many cases that could be similar to yours and that experience could minimize your risk of refusal.
For example, whilst Sophos Migration Specialist has knowledge in the application of refugee visas, we specialise mostly in family visas, partner visas, work visas, student visas, visitor visas and MRT/AAT appeals.
Tip 4 - Are they responsive, understanding and professional to deal with?
This is a very important point, if you have proceeded to contact an agent but have not yet assigned them as your agent and they are slow to respond, do not act professionally or do not take the time to listen and respond to your questions then imagine what it would be like once you have signed them on? Most businesses will be at their best behaviour before a statement of work is signed, so be careful to see how valued you are as a client before engaging an agent.
Tip 5 - You trust them and they understand you
Another tip that should be stressed is that you should make sure that you get a long with your agent and that you are able to communicate effectively to each other and understand each other. The migration process for some visa types can be quite lengthy and therefore because you can be stuck with an agent for the duration of that period, you need to ensure that you trust them and have good rapport with them.
Give Sophos a call...
Hopefully you find that our registered migration agent, Anna Molina, from Sophos Migration Specialist ticks all the boxes for you. Why not give us a go and call us for an initial consultation to find out if we are a right fit for you.