DIY Visa Applications – What could go wrong?
We have all witnessed our fair share of DIY disasters and dealt the consequences of not doing things properly in the first place. Be it renovating your kitchen or doing your decking, these are very common DIY tasks that are best left to the experts.
Similarly, applying for visas to migrate or remain in Australia should also be left to the experts in migration, migration lawyers.
Unlike a failed DIY house project which costs time and money, the consequences of a failed DIY visa application can be very serious and life-changing. In some cases, you may get to start over and reapply for the visa. In most cases, you don’t get to re-apply, may face up to a 3 year re-entry ban, or even worse, a failed visa application could cost you your opportunity to make Australia your home with your loved ones.
So why do some people still try and do their own visa applications? Some of the most common reasons I have heard from my clients below.
1. “The guidelines and instructions on the Department of Home Affairs seem clear. I can just follow them and get my visa?”
The Department of Home Affairs website should never be the sole source of information for a layman (you) to select a visa pathway and then prepare a visa application. As migration lawyers, we have access to migration laws, regulations, policies and cases and we study these laws and interpret them on a daily basis in order to advise our clients on the most appropriate visa pathways and assist in preparing the visa applications.
2. “Don’t I just fill in some forms and attach some documents with my visa application?”
The job of a migration lawyer is more than just form-filling exercise. The responses a visa applicant should provide in the application form as well as the type of documents to be provided are, in my opinion, almost an art form. Not only is the Department of Home Affairs looking for the correct responses, but also that the responses provided match with all of the information that you have previously provided to the Department in your entire migration history, as well as the documents that you have attached to the application. For example, remember those little pesky orange immigration arrival cards, or in recent days, touch screen answers, you fill in every time you enter Australia and you think no one ever stores them. Think again. They all get stored and archived in a place called the National Archives of Australia and can be retrieved easily if and when required.
3. “I have done it before and had no issues. Surely, I can do it again?”
Every single type of visa application is different. Each visa class and subclass have their own rules and criteria, such as whether you can apply for the visa in or outside of Australia, what type of visa must you be holding before applying for another visa, and can you apply for that particular visa if you’ve had a visa refused or cancelled. Furthermore, these rules and criteria are constantly changing. They change when a new political party is in government. They change with time. They change with circumstances, such as covid-19 concessions. Therefore, even for us, everytime we prepare a new visa application, we will always check the latest rules and criteria to make sure that the client is still eligible to apply for a particular class of visa, and prepare the application in accordance with the law.
4. “My mother/father/brother/sister/uncle/aunt/niece/nephew/friend has done this before on their own and they were successful. My case is exactly the same as theirs. What could go wrong?”
No two people are exactly the same, not even identical twins. For example, was your friend born in the same country, on the same day and time as you did? Did your friend begin working in the same company/business in the same position as you did? Did your friend first arrived in Australia on the same visa on the same day as you did? Did your friend fill in those incoming passenger cards with the exact same information as you did? You may say, no, but our circumstances are similar, so I can still get the visa if I do it exactly the same as my friend. Where you’re from, your visa history and your age, among other things, can affect your eligibility to apply for certain visas. Further, some visas such as regional employer sponsored visas follow the occupation and the industry and more often than not, only one nominated position is available, which means even if the employer required two people, and is able to sponsor two positions, usually only one applicant will be successful. So, even if you did everything exactly the same as your friend, the circumstances may not allow you to get the visa you want.
5. “The Department’s application fees are already so expensive. I can save some money doing it on my own.”
Finally, we understand that some of you may be doing it tough. However, doing it on your own without the expertise of a migration lawyer is a big gamble, especially if you do not have access to the laws, regulations and policies or have limited or no experience in preparing visa applications.
Choosing to live in Australia with your loved ones should not be based on a gamble. It should be based on well-researched advice and well-prepared visa applications.
Getting your visa application prepared correctly the first time round, will not only save you lots of heartache and money, but will also give you the best chance of a permanent and safe future in Australia with your loved ones.
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