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Migration agents - the good, the bad and the downright ugly


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DXB2OZ

Ok, firstly, let me say that this forum is awesome!! To have all this knowledge and experience on tap is just mind boggling.

My questions, in part to resolve a marital "debate" - are fairly simple:

1. Is it worth using a migration agent/specialist

2. I notice that migrate2oz based in Australia offers a visa review service - do other agents offer similar "menus" or is it more of an all or nothing type of thing?

3. Who are the good guys and who should be avoided at all costs? Have already seen one alarming post, and have duly noted.

Have already started a word doc just for the useful tips and links from this site.

Cheers

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Hi DXB2OZ,

First of all, welcome to the forum and I hope you find us a helpful and friendly bunch!

As a registered migration agent myself (I made a career change a couple of years after arriving here and helping to establish the forum), I am obviously a bit biased :blush-anim-cl:BUT, there is no real simple, one-size-fits-all answer. It generally depends on how simple or complex your application process is going to be. If you have an occupation on SOL and have all the relevant qualifications and work experience that you need to get a positive skill assessment from whomever your authority is, and either you or your better half is good with detailed paperwork, then you can negotiate the pathway yourselves. There is lots of help on the DIAC website that can assist in guiding you through the process. However, if there are any complexities, or if you aren't particularly good with detail (you both need to be very honest with yourselves on this one!), then it might be worth your while using someone who is properly registered with MARA. As a general rule of thumb, I always recommend at least a consultation with someone who can assess your options and advise you on your best course of action, and you can decide from there whether or not the money will be well spent.

There are many people who have successfully done their own applications and there are also many who have preferred to leave it to a professional. There are also, sadly, many who tried themselves and lost their application fees because of a technicality that they hadn't been aware of.

When I say be honest about your attention to detail, what I mean is that there are those who generally aren't good with this kind of work but who tell themselves that they will make the exception with their visa application (no doubt because of the fees that agents charge) and then end up messing things up for themselves, and have to call in someone anyway afterwards, thereby paying more than they would've in the first place.

Most reputable agents will offer a free assessment as a standard practice, so that might be the best place for you to start. Meantime, spend some time here and on the DIAC website and ask questions if you are unsure.

Best of luck!

Ajay

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AndreaL

If you decide to use an agent make sure they are registered with MARA.

We have 3 agents on this forum that offer advice and advise of changes for the benefit of all members and have done so for a number of years, they are Ajay, SD_MOA and customeyes.

Ultimately the choice is yours. I would agree with what Ajay has said. most will give an initial assessment and many will provide a fee for service........be wary of companies who ask for a chunk of money up front.

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Question, what does a MARA registered agent bring to the party i.e. can they represent you legally in front of a tribunal or are they just people that can fill in the document for you and give you some advise ?

The reason I ask is that you hear of bad agents that are MARA registered and they seem to just carry on. There the example of the current ASA going belly up and people have lost thousands.... next thing they trading again under a different name and the people are still MARA registered.

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We used an agent that is not MARA registered and we had no problems at all. We were glad we used an agent as what seemed to be a fairly straight forward exercise, soon changed into something a lot more complicated.I personally also think going by yourself you are more likely to pull out of the whole process when you get frustrated...

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With respect, chzaau, that's like asking what a lawyer brings to the party! Anyone can represent themselves in a legal action, but the question is whether or not they should. What does an electrician bring to the party? Or a plumber?

Migration agents, for the most part, are highly skilled professionals who spent thousands on education and continue to invest in ongoing development as required by MARA for continued registration. We spend hours reading and researching policy and regulations to make sure that our clients are informed and educated on the ever changing landscape of migration legislation.

Too few people take action against the genuinely bad agents, and those that do generally get compensation of some description. I've tried to explain elsewhere here about how to handle the ASA debacle, and hopefully people will take note. Migration Agents at registered as individuals, so they remain accountable and responsible for their client files, regardless of what happens to their employer, so there should be protection for those that have been caught up in it.

It is certainly a lot more than 'filling in a document' and 'giving some advice' even if it was as simple as that, the advice comes from lots off learning and training and shouldn't be treated as though it has no value.

I accept that there are bad agents out there, just as there are bad doctors, bad lawyers, bad carpenters and bad IT support people, but to minimise the very hard work that the vast majority do to help their clients secure a new life is just simply not fair.

Finally, agents can't represent you at a tribunal (it works like a CCMA session, where the parties represent themselves) but we generally prepare our clients for what will happen and are able to sit in on the proceedings to offer guidance on how it is going. However, if your case goes higher than the review tribunal, then representation is allowed.

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Ajay, so if I understand correctly, regardless if the people paid ASA, the agent (physical person) is actually the person liable to lodge and pay the visa fee. Therefore why are people getting all up in arms about ASA going belly up ?

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Not quite - the agent isn't liable to incur lodgement fees on behalf of their client, but the file must still be handled or else transferred to someone else and a notice of this given to the client. If the engagement is being terminated because the business is no longer operating, then a statement of service must be provided to the client, showing, at an itemised level, what fees have been drawn from the client account and how these have been used. Any unused fees are to be refunded. If they have gone bankrupt and there is no money, then the client becomes a creditor.

Either way, the individual agent (i.e the registered person assigned to the case file) is obliged to tell you if they are no longer handling the application and alternative arrangements should be made.

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Jacques Voogt

I would advise anyone to make use of an agent even though we didn't.

We lost close to a year due to small little things we missed or at times being too busy to continue our documentation preparation. For example, we did IELTS in Jan 2012 and wanted to apply for skills assessment there after, however we just didn't get to it until March. Then we finally got the skills assessment back mid June 2012 and wanted to apply for the VISA only to find out that they look at each of the IELTS bands and not just the overall score. So we actually did not have enough points to qualify.

Luckily for us the new system introduced in July 2012 also had a lower score requirement, but now we had to wait another 3 or 4 months in the queue while they pilot the system before getting an invite. We then applied but heard nothing for almost 4 months while others got their visas. We were waiting for a case officer to be assigned before we wanted to do the medicals. Eventually we just figured, what the heck, it is valid for a year, so let us just do it and get it over with. A month or so later we still heard nothing, until we repeatedly phoned DIAC trying to find out what is happening and if we have a case officer. You never get to speak to them, only the front desk operator. But eventually the inquiry may have prompted some action by the C/O as we suddenly got our first communication from the C/O in the form of a grant letter.

Had we made use of an agent, we would have been told about the IELTS thing and we would have had enough time to improve that before the system changed.

Had we made use of an agent, we would not have taken 3 months to prepare a document pack for skills assessment. (We had all documents ready, just did not fill the forms and sent it)

Had we made use of an agent, we would most likely have gone for the medicals, on agent's advice, soon after applying instead of waiting for an C/O that was possibly waiting for us.

Had we made use of an agent, we would most likely have had a better channel to work through to try and find out what is happening with our application.

Now let me put the financials in perspective.

Agent fees would have been R25,000 to R30,000 somewhere there.

Visa application fee, skills assessment, IELTS, Medicals etc was probably close to R45,000 to R50,000

A 20ft container would cost R80,000 but we simply can't afford that anymore.

Plane tickets will cost you R17,000 to R20,000

Now let's say you have a total of R1,000,000 in savings, annuities, proceeds from sale of house and cars all put together. If you wait for a year before moving it across it will have devalued against the AUD by at least 10%. So it would cost you R100,000 of your savings for a more stressfull and time consuming visa and migration process.

So in my opinion, it would have been cheaper, easier and quicker to use an agent than to DIY.

Our case may differ from others and others may have been able to do it in the same time frame. But seriously, we fave full time jobs, and simply do not have the time to learn everything that an agent knows in our spare time.

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Jacques Voogt

If you decide to use an agent make sure they are registered with MARA.

We have 3 agents on this forum that offer advice and advise of changes for the benefit of all members and have done so for a number of years, they are Ajay, SD_MOA and customeyes.

Ultimately the choice is yours. I would agree with what Ajay has said. most will give an initial assessment and many will provide a fee for service........be wary of companies who ask for a chunk of money up front.

In fairness to all agents, I am also aware of a 4th agent on this forum, TeeTMI

Do not pick the cheapest agent. Pick the one that specializes with your type of application or that you feel you can relate to the best and will be to the best advantage to your application.

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AndreaL

Thanks Jacques, the others names just roll off the tongue, having all been involved with the forum for a number of years, especially Ajay as a founding member of the forum.

If I were to engage the services of an agent, it would be a MARA registered one, that way if you are unhappy with the service provided there are avenues through which to complain and I know that they have to keep up on migration law and legislation changes.

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claudiodr

Hi and welcome!

1) Is it worth using an agent - Yes, definitely. Is it possible to do it on your own, yes; would I recommend it, hell no!

2) I think they all offer pretty much the same things - Full board, assistance with certain phases or just consultations. Most do the initial consultation for free

3) Stephen Dickson (SD_MOA) and TeeMI are the most positively spoken about...that's not to say they're the only good ones though. We used Hitchcock and Associates - Got the job done but they were too expensive ($6K is agents fees alone)

Good luck and remember to enjoy the ride (You won't!)

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My husband and I were also originally considering whether or not to use an agent and I thank my lucky stars everyday that we decided to use one. Obviously not using an agent is cheaper but you have to look at the cost Vs the benefit.
This is already an emotional and at times laborious process and I have found it extremely handy to have an agent on call in my times of panic.

We are using an agent called Migrate to Oz as mentioned in your post, they do have a branch in Johannesburg and they are MARA registered. I would definitely recommend them.

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Hi all

Thank you for this wonderful forum. We have made the decision to immigrate and have considered doing it our own but after reading these post i think it would be wise to go with an agent. We have been in contact with other agents but no one seemed to have a positive response. Maybe we were looking in the wrong place. My prof is on the skills list.

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Jacques Voogt

SOL or CSOL?

That will determine independant or sponsored.

A lot of times the crucial factor is the selection of the specific occupation rather than the skill and then of course proving in a few simple words what exactly you did in this occupation. That is where an agent will be able to assit greatly and will definitely make the process easier.

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miraclebabycaw

We used migrate2oz and couldn't have been happier. see my signature for timelines. They were exceptionally fast and always quick to call me back. I even spoke to Ray all the way from Oz about issues with my mom. We ignored their advice on my mom and listened to a migration attorney in Sydney who supposedly knew better and have issues with her now. He is Mara registered but we can't pursue as we don't have much in writing, most of the conversations were word of mouth over the phone. Definitely go with someone recognized and recommended. In my case agents were invaluable.

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Thanks for the info. I've learnt a lot. Looks like the agents are really worth it...

Correct me if i'm wrong, but does one "pay-as-you-go" the agents?

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  • 2 weeks later...
Bigvan07

Hi Asker,

In a way it is "pay as you go" as they require certain amounts at certain stages in the process. The particular agent we are using(comes highly recommended on the forum) has a small start up fee, see it more as a payment of good standing. then only when they prepare the skills assessment to the relevant authority there require another payment etc. It is a good thing, then you don't have to shell out a big lump sum before anything happens.

Hope this helps.

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Jacques Voogt

Anyone seen the Carte Blanche report on Global Visas?

The web report is not yet available online, but when it is, I'll post it.

Edit: http://beta.mnet.co.za/carteblanche/Article.aspx?Id=4763&ShowId=1

Edited by Jacques Voogt
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Bigvan07

I saw it yes, it is ridiculous!

luckily we have been warned agaisnt using them, Hellopeter is an invaluable resource when it comes to checking up on companies as well.

They crush people's dreams just to make a quick buck and by the sound of it they cost an arm and a leg too.

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I have a mate who has paid them R 33 000 already ... So upsetting :angry2:

I have an invoice of R35 000 from them - counting my lucky stars for this amazing forum!!!

I decided against using Global ...

We are tackling this our selves with the help of each and every one on the forum ...

THANK YOU :ilikeit:

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Bananaboy

Hi

We used Migrate2Ozz, great service , negotiate on the fees !!!

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I checked our emails - we also have an invoice from them from 2010 for R18000.00 - thank goodness we decided against them. Within the first 2 paragraphs of the contract I noticed 3 spelling errors - how professional is that! They also incorrectly advised us that we only need to stay 12 months in our chosen sponsored state.....

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Hi DXB2OZ, Andre Burger from Andre Burger & Associates helped and guided us through the tough and challenging Visa application process. They have offices in JHB and Sydney. Their advise was very helpful and it took a lot of stress away away from us.

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