Sunday, November 8, 2015

7 things to think about before hiring a migration agent

I emigrated from the UK in 1996 and moved to New Zealand. In 2012 I moved to Australia and am now in the throes of applying for residency and citizenship here. I have had mixed experiences with migration agents, so here's a few thoughts based on what I have learned. Hopefully it will be useful to you if you are thinking about emigrating to another country.

1. Do you need a migration agent?
There's no doubt about it, emigrating to another country is expensive so applying for visas etc by yourself can significantly reduce costs. I looked into hiring a migration agent when I moved from the UK to New Zealand but decided that I could manage the process myself. The process was extremely straight forward, and I was pleased to save myself over one thousand pounds (20 years ago). However, I am finding that it is a very different kettle of fish to obtain Australian residency now, in my particular situation. And there is no way I could manage the process by myself, so I have chosen to hire a migration agent this time.

If you have a straight-forward application for a visa, it may be perfectly achievable to do the application yourself. However, if you have any doubts, or if your situation is in any way complex, you're probably better off going with a migration agent who knows what he is doing.

2. Is the migration agent accredited with a recognised authority?
Every country has its own migration agent accrediting authority - in Australia, it is Migration Agents Registered Authority (MARA). In no circumstances would I give my money to a migration agent who was not registered. If you do, and everything turns to custard, you will most likely have no avenue for recompense.

3. Can you speak to someone else who has used his services?
Nothing beats a personal recommendation. If you cannot find anyone to recommend the agent, do an internet search and have a careful look at his website. And if you can, have a chat to the agent first before hiring him to take on your case. 

4. Does the migration agent know his stuff?
I hired an agent a year ago to take on my case, but the alarm bells rang very soon when he kept changing the advice he gave me, which included getting me to spend $500 on a process that I didn't need. In the end, I was telling him what to do! Thankfully, I was able to retrieve my deposit from him and I have engaged another agent who very clearly knows what he is doing.

It's worth doing as much homework as you can before you talk to an agent so you have some sense of how accurate the information is that he is giving you.  

5. How does his costs compare with other agents?
It's worth comparing costs, which can vary from agent to agent. It is also worth checking what costs are required and when. You will need to be prepared to hand over a significant deposit when you first hire an agent.   

6. Does the agent have the time to work on your case?
The first agent I hired clearly was extremely busy and I found it difficult to communicate with him. You spend enough on migration agents so you want to make sure that you hire one who will be totally on your case. 

7. How good is the agent's communication with you?
Emigrating can be complicated so you need a migration agent who can clearly communicate to you the processes, and requirements that you need to meet. If you are unable to understand what the agent is talking about, then you probably need to find another who you can better connect with.

Have you emigrated to another country? What tips would you pass on about choosing a migration agent?

No comments: