There are three broad sources of information immigration advice about Australian visas and how to bring your Filipina lady to Australia either permanently or just for a visit. Well-meaning friends, no-care no-responsibility forums and Facebook groups and of course proper advice from Registered Migration Agents. Given the fact that so much often rests on visa decisions and that people do get hurt, the Australian government decided a number of years ago to regulate the giving of advice about visa applications.
It is illegal for anyone except Registered Migration Agents to give immigration advice (ie advice about visas) in Australia.
Exceptions are made for the following, as long as they don’t charge a fee:
- your spouse, parent, brother, sister, child or adopted child
- your sponsor or nominator
- parliamentarians (state or federal) and their staff
- members of diplomatic missions, consular posts or international organisations.
Despite this being law, these rules are broken all the time much to the detriment of the trusting souls who listen to the well-intentioned but invariably poorly-informed.
Bad Australian Visa and Immigration Advice
I won’t touch on those who seek profit for poor advice on this occasion, even though there are plenty of opportunists and unqualified “agents” out there. Maybe there are exceptions, but I don’t believe any unqualified person offering visa help and immigration advice in exchange for payment is unaware that they are providing poor value for money. They are motivated by greed, and don’t care about the end results.
In this article I’m concentrating on those who provide bad advice but with the best of intentions. They lack the greed of the fake “agents”, but they can still unwittingly cause a lot of damage.
Friends and Relatives and Visa Advice
Friends and relatives are normally on your side absolutely! They want your dreams to come true, and they normally truly believe they are helping. I’m sure the crab-mentality relatives as well as the grudge-bearing ones exist who would set you up for failure, but I think (and hope!) that this is less common.
Relatives in the Philippines are well-known for giving poor-but-enthusiastic advice. Older relatives, be they parents, aunties, older sisters etc, their advice and assurance is actively sought out in most cases, and it’s seen by these older relatives as their duty to provide wise advice. What if they know nothing about the topic? Irrelevant! Saying “Sorry, but I haven’t got a clue!” is never an option! So you will have 57 year old Auntie Jing Jing telling your Filipina fiancée something that she knows absolutely nothing about!
I think the dangers are fairly obvious! You pay a professional to give you advice based on facts and based on considerable experience and expertise. Stuffing this up with bad advice from someone who knows nothing? We’ve send this lead to visa refusals when omissions of important information were made. As an Australian, you need to understand the cultural differences but at the same time you can’t just go along with it.
Relatives and friends in Australia? Not quite the same. Aussies are far more likely to admit to a lack of knowledge, however you will no doubt still get the “Surely they can’t mean…..?” type of comment from the well-meaning who think they are just being logical. Australian Immigration does not always follow logical processes, sorry to say.
The experienced mate is more likely to try to be helpful. He or she are the one who went through the partner visa process themselves, sometimes many years ago or maybe recently. They will sometimes be resentful if you had chosen to pay a professional when you could have relied on their great wisdom, and this may get mixed in with a genuine desire to help.
I’ll explain at the end an overall problem with receiving advice from anyone with a little bit of information only!
Visa Advice Forums and Facebook Groups
There are a plethora of these out there, and they increase every day. Forums require knowledge of website-making and a lot of work, whereas anyone can make a Facebook group in about 30 minutes or so. Every time you blink, there’s another group page out there about Australian visas from Philippines where trusting souls ask questions and anyone with a thought process can answer and give advice.
End-result is that someone walks away with often poor to dreadful advice! And this may affect their visa application.
We have our own Facebook group called Philippines to Australia, which is there mainly to encourage Down Under Visa clients to communicate with other Australian Filipina couples. It’s always awash with visa grant notices, wedding photos and baby pics. A fairly happy place, free of trolls and pickup lines.
We do get a few questions from prospective visa applicants too, and I not only insist on answering these myself but I also actively prevent other members from answering! Questions about getting passports or best ways to send money to the Philippines? Entirely open to all! But anything that can be called “migration advice” is dealt with by a Registered Migration Agent, ie me!
And sometimes these questions get away, giving me (as administrator) the unpleasant task of having to delete answers because those well-meaning folk don’t always know when their answers are wrong!
Visa advice from amateurs – What’s the problem?
The problem is that a little bit of information is dangerous! Most people who will give immigration advice on a forum have had one successful visa application. They may have a partner visa grant, and possibly a couple of tourist visa grants. You don’t get too many people on the “Easy Do-It-Yourself Visas” group who can say “Well, yes! I did 30 partner visa applications for my wife, so I’m something of an old-hand here!” “Experience” for most forum users is one application only!
And worst of all? It’s the no-care, no responsibility situation you will find yourself in if you take poor advice! It’s a bit of a problem in the age that we live in that everyone considers their advice quality to be equal to the level of enthusiasm in which it was given. If you feel strongly enough, then you have a right to encourage others to follow you! Forget about facts! This applies to both well-meaning friends and to forums and Facebook groups!
A Registered Migration Agent like Down Under Visa? We’ve done hundreds and sometimes thousands of Australian visa applications! We’re also university-educated and registered and regulated by a Code of Conduct, and we have access to the latest legislation.
And we’ve seen most problems and issues! The insurmountable problem you come to us with? We’ve usually seen it hundreds of times before. And as many will attest, come to Jeff with something completely new and you will hear “Sorry, but I’ve never come across that before. Let me do some research and get back to you!” A good professional doesn’t experiment on their clients.