Plenty of people do apply for Australian visas by themselves, just as not everybody represents themselves in court or goes to the doctor every time they are sick. But I think the wisdom comes from knowing when you’re out of your depth and when to call in a professional (ie. a Registered Migration Agent specializing in visas from Philippines to Australia as well as China, Thailand and Vietnam).
I did my own divorce papers many years ago. The Family Court puts out a “kit” and you follow the instructions. But then again, divorces are fairly simple usually. The main “regulation” you need to meet is being “incompatible”, which is evidenced by being apart for 12 months or more. And no doubt if visas were that simple and if the Migration Regulations weren’t as thick as a phonebook, then visas would be easy too. Imagine!
“Are you married to the sponsor who is an Australian Citizen?” YES. “Submit a copy of his birth certificate and your marriage certificate, and your visa will be in the mail next week!”
Well, it isn’t!
The Migration Regulations are all written in legal-speak, and each visa class and subclass has a long list of Regulations which need to be met before you get a visa grant. And there is a Departmental policy manual telling the Department staff how to interpret the Regulations. Then on top of that is a whole lot of practical stuff that isn’t written anywhere, as well as local knowledge needed about local paperwork and local issues. This is particularly significant here in the Philippines with the complicated system of Government documents.
The advice forums and Facebook groups
I saw a posting from someone the other day on one of the Facebook groups for Australian men with ladies from the Philippines. They had enquired of us last year and asked lots of questions regarding a partner visa, and decided that we were too expensive, all without knowing the workload that is involved. He ended up applying for a tourist visa with some help from somebody definitely not registered with MARA (www.mara.gov.au), and had lots of encouragement from the fellow Facebookers who all offered their pearls of wisdom.
Well, the end result was that someone had told this fellow to book an airline ticket before the tourist visa was granted (assuming it will in fact be granted), and he’s now stuck with it. He mentioned that it was a one-way ticket too, which would have caused him additional problems had his lady tried to get on a plane with it.
Facebook has its place. I use it (although not for discussing visa matters with clients, take note) and we have our Philippines To Australia group on there. Great way of keeping in touch with friends and colleagues and for feeling less alone. But it is NOT a place to go to get advice. It’s actually illegal for anyone who isn’t a Registered Migration Agent to give “migration advice”, with a $10,000.00 fine and jail-time for offenders. The reason for this is that bad advice can cause utter misery and suffering to people, and can keep loved ones apart sometimes for years. Run up against Regulation 4020 (false statements and bogus documents) and quite a few others and you’ll know what I’m talking about!
By all means find a group of likeminded people and share your experiences and your thoughts, as well as your wedding photos and great news of visa grants. But don’t go looking for advice! It’s definitely not the place, regardless of how well-meaning people can be. People do and say all sorts of things when they are alone and staring at a screen, where they don’t see the faces of those they could inadvertently hurt!
And please think very carefully if Australian Migration Law is an area where you wish to take a punt and try it yourself. Would you defend yourself in court? You generally wouldn’t. And the judge would talk you out of it too. Why do this with your future happiness with your fiancée or wife?
And no, if you come and see us after a failed attempt at getting a visa (ie a refusal), we won’t say “I told you so!” We see it all the time, and we DO understand.