Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Everything you ever wanted to know about Down Under Visa
We are Registered Migration Agents (RMA), registered with MARA (Migration Agents Registration Authority, which is run by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship) in Australia. Our MARN (Migration Agents Registration Number) is 0959797. It is illegal in Australia to give migration advice unless you are an RMA, so yes it’s a form of licensing. So yes, we are.
You don’t! You’re free to do all of this yourself if you wish. However, you do this at your own risk. And in about 90% of cases we manage to stop a client from doing something that would have caused them problems with their applications, maybe even a refusal. You are also free to defend yourself in court, or treat your own medical problems. However, you are missing out on the services of an experienced professional who has been through this process many times before. What price do you put on your future, or the future of your loved one?
You’re always free to deal with another agent, and we’re too professional for bad-mouthing. However, most agents will specialise in an area or a demographic (market) that they’re familiar and experienced with. There are some areas where we pass work onto other agents who have greater expertise than us. We specialise in visas from the Philippines, because we have a wealth of experience with Filipino culture (my wife is Filipina, and I’ve had over a decade of association with the country and people). We have an office here. We live here. And we know the cultural and bureaucratic peculiarities. I tend to talk to the Australian party in a visa application, and Mila deals with the Filipinos. It’s a good combination, and it works well. Please read this BLOG post.
Our main office is in Manila, where it’s very affordable to fill your office with low-paid staff. And many agents do just this. One agent, and 15 staff members doing most of the work. If we did this, we could handle more clients and process more applications…..but we place quality over quantity. ALL visa applications are personally handled by Jeff Harvie, our Registered Migration Agent. Our few support staff handle reception and clerical work only. My son Jeremy Harvie helps me to deal with enquiries, as well as supervising office staff. Every single email response he sends to clients is checked and approved by me before it goes out! So at NO stage are you in the hands of anyone unqualified. Please read this BLOG post.
For some reason, everyone’s an expert when it comes to migration. There are over 70 different types of visa for Australia. The Migration Act of 1958 and the Migration Regulations of 1994 are like a couple of phonebooks in thickness, and many of the Laws and Regulations change several times per year. And there is very little consistency across the different visa types. Beware of well-meaning friends! And PLEASE don’t seek advice from those annoying amateur-run “advice forums” on the internet. Just because somebody managed to get their own visa application refused does NOT qualify them to advise you on yours. They are actually breaking the law by giving advice when not registered with MARA. Stay away!
People always ask “What are my requirements?” Different visas, different people, different situations, different requirements. Once you become our client, we will give you all the checklists and guidance documents you need, and we are always available to answer questions. Once you’ve become our client, never be embarrassed to ask! The other side of this coin is that if you are not our client yet, please don’t expect we will analyse your your case and give you free advice on how to lodge your own visa application. We will assess your situation and give you an opinion on whether you have a strong case, and we will do this for free (many agents charge for this), but don’t ask us to work for nothing. Please read this BLOG post.
You don’t need to fill out visa application forms. Not the Form 40SP, Form 47SP, Form 48R or Form 1419. Even the Form 956, you only need to sign it after we complete the details. We don’t expect you to fill out forms, as this is our job to do.
How much does it cost to get a visa to Australia? It depends on the visa, and the price can change because the Australian Government can increase the visa application charge at a moments notice. And they’ve now introduced charges for adding children to a visa application as secondary applicants. When you fill out our online assessment form, we will give you a fixed quote on what it will cost you, including government charges and our own professional fees. Those who shop around find our charges very reasonable. And there are no hidden costs. There is a lot of work that goes into the management of your visa application, and what price can you put on your future?
Check out these documents DOC-1 DOC-2 to get more information on unregistered agents. The Philippines is full of them. And almost every travel agent becomes an instant Migration Agent when the opportunity comes their way. Of course they’re cheaper! Registration for Registered Migration Agents costs money! So does maintaining a professional library, attending Continued Professional Development courses, keeping proper records and running a professional office. And there are those “agents” who don’t actually submit an application for you at all. Very cheap! Proceed at your own risk. In Australia it is a criminal offense to give migration advice without being registered with MARA. With an unregistered agent, you run a serious risk and you have no protection or comeback.
Under Section 2.14A of the Code of Conduct for Registered Migration Agents (which is set in Law), we’re not allowed to do that. However, under Section 2.6 of the Code, we need to be honest with you about the likely success of a case. We turn clients away on a regular basis when we don’t believe their application would succeed. And remember too that the decisions to grant a visa comes from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), so how can anybody guarantee a decision that is out of their hands anyway?
My wife Mila does. (I speak enough to get myself into trouble, and that’s about it). So basically, yes we do.
Our offices are in Dasmarinas, Cavite (short drive from Manila) and in Brisbane. In most cases we don’t need to see clients at all. In this electronic age, we can do everything we need via email, phone, fax and couriers. We have clients from all over the world, and many successful visa applications from people we’ve never physically met. If you need a face-to-face, provided we are in the correct place (or country) at the time, we can always make arrangements. And we are VERY quick to return emails and phonecalls! Please read this BLOG post.
If only it were that easy! In some cases? Yes. But for the average Filipino it’s very hard to get a Visitor Visa. Please read this BLOG as it’s explained in great detail.
Please read this document for more information. We can help you either way, so it’s entirely up to you.
It is possible to apply for a partner visa on de facto relationship grounds. We will need to discuss your circumstances with you.
As a de facto partner, yes quite possibly. As a fiancee, no. Please contact us?
This depends on the visa! It also depends on how busy the Departmental office is at the time. Visitor Visas (when appropriate) may only take a few weeks. Spouse or fiancee visas an average of 6 months or longer. Tourist visas approximately 2 – 3 weeks processing time.
Because the Department deals with hundreds of thousands of applications every year. Most of the processing time is literally taken up by the application sitting in a large pile waiting for a Case Officer to be assigned. And if there is investigation to be done, or further information to be sought, then it will take longer. Once the application has been assigned, it is quite possible for a visa to be processed in a single day if it is well-prepared and all of the requirements are clearly met. But it still sits in the large pile first before they pick it up.
Definitely not! And any agent who says they can, they are not only lying they are also breaking the Code of Conduct (assuming they are registered!) Visas are GRANTED when the Regulations are met. They are nobody’s “right”. You are not a “customer”, and they won’t be pushed. You need to be patient. The very worst thing you can do is to do the “I’m a taxpayer and I know my rights” outburst. And beware of any “agent” insinuating they are friends with Departmental staff who can fast-track. This is the Australian Government you are dealing with, and you don’t want to be party to suggestions of obtaining special favours from Departmental officers, as this smells of serious corruption. Even if we believed this was a possibility (which we do not!), we run an honest business and would never involve ourselves in this sort of thing. Please don’t ask us.
You will hear from us whenever we hear something from the Department. There is nothing gained by asking us “Have you heard anything?” If you hear nothing from us, it means we’ve heard nothing from them. We’re definitely not ignoring you. We will be with you all the way through. But you need to be patient.
She won’t have to worry, as long as she is well-prepared. And we will make sure she knows what to say (and what NOT to say!). However MOST of the time she won’t need to go to manila. Face to face interviews are rare, especially if your application is put together properly. And Medical examinations can be done in Cebu City, Davao and Baguio too.
No, they contact us. And we will let you know immediately.
If the visa is an offshore visa (eg. Tourist visa, offshore General Skilled Migration visa, or Student visa), then there is no right of appeal. If it is an onshore visa, or if there is an onshore sponsor, then yes it may be appealed at the Migration Review Tribunal (MRT). The MRT is independent of the Department, and will overturn decisions if they are proved to be incorrect.