Visa applicants often ask why they need an Accredited Immigration Law Specialist to prepare their visa application, and what additional advantages they stand to gain from doing so in preference to engaging a migration agent or taking the ‘do-it-yourself’ approach.
So what are the potential benefits, and what do those benefits mean for your prospects of success?
Haag Walker Lawyers for your Immigration Matters
Australia’s ever-changing immigration laws, policies and practices portray a complex landscape. Australia offers more than 100 Australian visa subclasses and various pathways towards permanent residence.
For instance, the pathway to permanent residence for 457 visa holders granted their visa before 18 April 2017 (or after that date in respect of an application made before 18 April 2017) is further complicated by the presence of Transitional Arrangements associated with the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa which came into effect on 18 March 2018. Legal and procedural technicalities make it important to get legal advice from the beginning to the end of the migration process.
Specialist Australian lawyers offering Australian immigration services are ideally equipped to advise and assist applicants for any Australian visa.
Haag Walker Lawyers are registered Australian lawyers, Accredited Migration Law Specialists and registered migration agents. We are subject to Government regulation that apply specifically to Australian Lawyers in addition to the regulations that apply to migration agents.
Importantly, Haag Walker Lawyers practice exclusively in Australian immigration law. Our team is lead by an Accredited Specialist with more than 17 years experience in migration law and practice.
If your immigration matter is dealt by Haag Walker Lawyers, your financial resources and time will not be wasted on any unwarranted application or impossible outcome. Under our guidance, you can be confident your Australian visa application will have the best possible chance of success.
Self – Prepared Australian Visa Applications
Australian law does not compel a visa applicant to obtain the services of an Australian immigration lawyer or migration agent. You are entitled to prepare and submit your own visa application without professional assistance.
Completion of a high-quality decision ready visa application requires much more than just going online and filling in forms. The application process is a potentially life-changing endeavour. Consequently, it makes good sense to engage an experienced migration law specialist Lawyer to advance your application.
Key Differences between Australian Immigration Lawyers and Australian Migration Agents
In Australia, any individual or firm providing immigration advice or assistance must be registered with the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA).
Australian migration practitioners are regulated by the guidelines and policies of MARA. This is the case for both Australian migration agents and Australian lawyers who practise immigration law.
It is important to note that while all MARA registered Australian immigration lawyers are also Australian migration agents, not all Australian migration agents can claim to be Australian immigration lawyers.
In addition to their MARA registration, Australian immigration lawyers are also required to be registered with a government approved body that regulates the legal profession. This means Australian immigration lawyers are subject to a higher degree of regulation and supervision than Australian migration agents.
Haag Walker Lawyers are both registered migration agents AND registered Australian lawyers. Accordingly, Haag Walker Lawyers adheres to both the stipulations outlined in MARA’s code of conduct, as well as the ethical and professional standards prescribed by the Government of Victoria in the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014, the Legal Profession Uniform Law General Rules 2015 and the Legal Profession Uniform Law Australian Solicitors’ Conduct Rules 2015.
Training and Experience
Many prospective visa applicants are unaware of the significant difference in legal training undertaken by Australian immigration lawyers as compared to non-lawyer migration agents.
In order to practise law independently in Australia, at least three years of university education is required, including prescribed courses in Australian administration law (involving legal challenges to Government decisions such as the grant or refusal of Australian visa applications), professional conduct and ethical conduct.
This is followed by a period of supervised, practical legal work under the direction of an experienced mentor. As a result of this extensive period of study and practical experience, Australian lawyers already possess significant skills and experience in Australian law before they are permitted to practise independently.
Migration agents, on the other hand, are not required to complete anywhere near this level of training or undertake any practical legal work, beyond the scope of their migration studies, before they are permitted to offer their services to the public.
A further important distinction between Australian immigration lawyers and Migration Agents relates to the preparation of legal submissions.
Given that Australian Lawyers are required to undertake at least three years of university legal training, it stands to reason that they are well qualified to understand the legislation, policy, and procedure applied by the Department of Immigration case officers.
So when it comes to preparing high-quality legal submissions to accompany your visa application, this training and experience is an invaluable asset towards the potential success of your application.
A well prepared legal submission will ensure that each of the visa criteria required for your visa grant is properly addressed and supported by appropriate documentation.
Additional Legal Advice and Options
Australian immigration lawyers are not confined in the advice they can give by the boundaries of immigration law. They are legal professionals trained in the Laws of Australia. They are able to advise you in relation to the full range of laws that may be relevant to your circumstances.
Immigration matters often carry implications concerning a client’s rights and responsibilities in other areas of law, such as family law, employment law, business law, criminal law, and tax law. Non-lawyer migration agents cannot be expected to understand the general operation of the law. Furthermore, they are prohibited from providing you with legal advice outside their narrow field of training.
Lawyers, on the other hand, are required to be aware of Australian laws in general. Their training and experience means they will be able to identify any potential implications these other areas of law may have on your visa application.
Additionally, should your visa application be refused and if you choose to bring an appeal before the Australian courts, an immigration lawyer will be able to represent you in that review, while a non-lawyer migration agent cannot. Appeals are often an important part of the application process, so it is sensible to make sure this option is available to you from the beginning.
Confidentiality – Client Legal Privilege
Clients of Australian Lawyers can claim the right to client legal privilege. This means that their communications with their lawyer are confidential and protected from exposure in most situations (a few limited exceptions exist).
Clients of migration agents are not entitled to claim that their communications with their migration agent are protected from disclosure by client legal privilege.
By retaining the services of an Australian immigration lawyer, you are entitled to privacy protection through client legal privilege for your communications with your Australian immigration lawyer.
Australian Visas – a Matter of Law
Obtaining your visa is a matter of law, so a full understanding of the law and how it applies to your circumstances is of vital importance in preparing and submitting a quality immigration visa application.
Australian immigration law is extremely complex, and it is continually evolving. Lawyers are often required to analyse, interpret and apply Australian legislation, case law and government policy on a daily basis. Australian immigration lawyers are skilled in working through this kind of complexity as a result of their legal training and experience.
In completing a visa application, particular questions and the answers provided to them can be of critical importance to the success of your application. So too is the type and quality of the documentation submitted in support of your visa application. Underpinning the Department of Immigration’s questions and documentary requirements is a set of laws that includes the Migration Act 1958 and Migration Regulations.
This legislative framework means that the type and quality of documentation provided to the Department of Immigration can sometimes make the difference between the grant or refusal of your visa application.
In many cases, it is not enough to simply rely on the Department’s ‘checklist’ of the supporting evidence it expects to be submitted along with your application. In some cases, professional advice not to include unnecessary documentation or ill-prepared documentation, in your application can have important relevance to the success or failure of your plan to locate to Australia.
Experienced Australian migration lawyers are able to provide you with clear advice as to what type of documentation should be submitted and aid you in the effective preparation and presentation of your documentation.
In Australia, a person who charges a fee for legal services must hold a current practicing certificate. These must be renewed each year. In order for a renewal of their practicing certificate to be renewed, Australian lawyers must be able to demonstrate that they;
- hold current compulsory professional indemnity insurance,
- have completed the required amount of Continued Professional Development (CPD) training, and
- have accurate audit records of any trust accounts held.
It’s important that you feel secure about the manner in which your visa application is handled. In the event that a migration service provider mishandles your case, or makes a mistake in preparing your visa application, you no doubt want the reassurance that comes from knowing you will be able to register a complaint and recoup any financial loss resulting from that mistake.
Given the high level of regulation that applies to Australian lawyers, there are numerous avenues available for you to lodge a complaint that would be thoroughly investigated by the regulating agency.
All Australian lawyers must abide by the directions of the Legal Profession Uniform Law Application Act 2014. Strict rules apply to the way in which an Australian lawyer is permitted to deal with any money you pay to them. Consequently, any misuse of money you have paid to an Australian lawyer would be thoroughly investigated.
If your money was found to have been misappropriated you could expect to be reimbursed by the Legal Practitioners Fidelity Fund for your financial loss. Furthermore, the way in which an Australian lawyer deals with your money is automatically subject to independent audit by an approved auditor. The rules serve to protect your funds from misappropriation.