What happens at a consultation?
Initial phone or email contact
We generally like to talk to you on the phone, or via email first. We like to get the basic outline of your situation, ask some general questions, and get an idea of what documentation you have. If we need further information from you, or we’d like you to send us the documents you have, we will tell you. We do this in order to get a clear picture of your situation, so we can tell you with the necessary level of confidence that you have a chance of getting a visa.
It is not necessary to have a face-to face meeting to gather this information and get a clear idea of your situation. Many clients are overseas, or in other Australian states, and visa applications are generally prepared as a result of going through a client’s situation very carefully and assembling the required documents and addressing any potential problems, so it is not strictly a necessity that we meet the client in person.
However, if you are in Sydney, and if after our initial phone and email conversation we tell you that you have a chance of getting a visa, then you are welcome to come into our office to meet us and sign the contract. However, if you are not in Sydney, and unable to come into our office, this will not make things any more difficult. What is important is that we get your full story, get to see what documents you have, and determine that is possible for you to get any further documents you may need.
Consumer Guide – Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority
Once we have an idea about your situation, we send you a Consumer Guide, which lists our obligations in providing advice, and if you choose to retain us, in acting for you. We then explain your visa options, and suggest the best option for your circumstances.
Contract & Deposit
We will send you a estimate of fees and services. This is our contract, and will list what we will do for you, our professional fee, and an estimate of total costs. Our professional fees are divided into two payments: an initial deposit of 50%, and another payment of 50% before we lodge the visa application. There are also other 3rd party fees that you need to pay, such as the visa application fees, fees for medical exams if necessary, fees for police clearances if necessary, translation costs incurred in having your documents translated if they not in English, fees for health cover for certain visas, fees for skills assessments if necessary, and other 3rd party fees associated with preparing your visa application. We provide an estimate of these costs in our contract. Once you sign and return the contract, we start work on your visa application.
How do you prepare the visa application?
We generally send you a document checklist. You simply go through the list and get the documents we request, and upload them to an application we will provide the link for. While we prepare your visa application we will be in touch via email, phone, or chat programs such as WeChat or Whats App. If you are overseas and we think it is important to talk to you face-to-face, we will arrange Skype meeting. If you are in Asia, we will use WeChat. However, mostly everything can be done via one or more of the communication methods detailed above.
There is often a lot of back and forth while we prepare your application; there may be problems with some of the your documents – you may need to get further documents or updated documents; there will be questions we will need to ask you in order to gather the required information; there will be some forms we will ask you to fill in; and we may need to talk to you to decide the best way to address any potential problems or inconsistencies with your application.
Once you have sent us everything, and we have everything ready, we will send you a printout of your application to check for accuracy, in addition to a pdf copy of any written submission we have prepared on your behalf, if this are necessary. A written submission is necessary if there are inconsistencies, or other problems. These need to be explained to the Case Officer assessing your visa application, and evidence attached to support the claims made. It is important you check the printout and any submissions for accuracy. The information you provide will be retained by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. If, in any future visa applications, you provide information that is inconsistent with the information provided in this visa application, it will potentially create enormous problems for you.
We will ask you to send us an email approving the information in the application, and then we will submit the application. We will forward you the visa application receipt, and any bridging visas if you are in Australia.
Processing times vary depending on the visa. For most visas you will have to wait for a period of time to get an answer. We will give you a rough estimate of the probable time it will take, whether it be a matter of weeks, months, or a year or more. Once we get an answer, we will forward you the letter from the Immigration Department, which hopefully will be an approval letter. If you are successful, you are not sent anything other than the approval letter. In this letter there will be a date of approval, a date of expiry (if there is an expiry), and importantly, any conditions that come with your visa. Read the conditions carefully, and if there is an expiry date, note this in your calendar.
Why use a migration agent?
The majority of people lodging their own visa applications make avoidable errors, don’t provide enough evidence, or fail to anticipate problems with their application due to their circumstances, and fail to address these problems before lodging the application. As a result, they get a visa refusal. In many instances, the refusal was completely avoidable. While the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website does provide basic information in relation to visa applications, a lot of law and policy that may be relevant to the success of your application is not adequately detailed.
The problem with a visa refusal is that, with the main exception of Partner Visa applications, you cannot then apply for another visa while you are still in Australia.The idea here is to prevent people continually applying for visas, one after the other, in the hope of eventually getting one. Another problem is that, even if you leave Australia and apply for a visa outside Australia, a visa refusal in your past can potentially mean complications with your new visa application. In short, it is best to avoid visa refusals. You do this by making sure that each visa application you submit has been carefully prepared.
Migration agents and lawyers can access the full legislation, regulations, and policy that is relevant to your visa situation. If there are issues or inconsistencies, problems with your visa history in Australia, or a lack of evidence, or indeed any other problems that could result in a visa refusal as a consequence of not satisfying the visa requirements, these will be picked up by a registered migration agent or lawyer. The agent may advise you to hold off submitting an application until you have more evidence, more work experience, better English scores, or have addressed any potential problems with your visa history in Australia; or they may suggest you apply for another visa that would be better for you given your circumstances. Whether you choose Alta Visa or another organisation to represent you, it makes sense to have someone familiar with the law and policy scrutinise your situation carefully and prepare your application to ensure it has a good chance of success.
Can you guarantee I will get the visa?
It is impossible for a migration agent or immigration lawyer to promise you a positive result. Generally, if your agent or lawyer has agreed to act for you, he or she is reasonably confident you have a good chance of getting the visa you want. However, visa applications are assessed by Case Officers at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, and they have a certain amount of discretion when considering an application. An agent may have carefully prepared an application supplying a fairly comprehensive amount of supporting evidence that proves you are eligible for the visa, but come up against an officer requesting even further information, or an officer not willing to grant you the visa, the reason for which they will detail in a refusal letter. This is why it is impossible to guarantee a result, or even an easy visa approval. We give you a clear opinion about what we think your chances are based on the evidence you can provide, and prepare your visa application carefully enough to give it the best possible chances of success.
If you can’t supply the optimum amount of evidence, but we still think you have a chance and it is worth proceeding with the application, we will tell you this; and if you are still willing to proceed, we will do our best to explain to the Case Officer the reasons for the missing information, or reasons for any missing evidence.
However, there is no point in lodging a visa application if there is not a sufficient amount of evidence to show you meet the requirements to get the visa. We won’t agree to act for you if we really don’t think you have a reasonable chance of success, and nor will the vast majority of migration agents or lawyers. To do so would a breach of the Code of Conduct which regulates behaviour in the profession, and it would also be unethical in a simple moral sense, as visa applications fees are expensive, and lodging a visa application with very little, or even a borderline, chance of success, would be a waste of money.
It is important to note that we do not refund our fee if you are unsuccessful.