Professional migration advice on a budget – our Visa Advantage Service

Ever since the government introduced a major pricing reform for Visa Application Charges in September 2013, prospective clients have been telling us they can no longer afford to have their cases professionally managed. Although it is true that these clients are now facing substantially increased government charges, it is important to understand that this added expense in fact raises the stakes, in that you simply can’t afford to have the application refused. Having a Visa refused does not entitle you to a refund.

We understand that this unfortunately doesn’t change the reality of what you can and can’t afford in terms of engaging a reputable and knowledgeable migration agent to represent you. That’s why we here at National Visas offer a range of lower level services which still give you access to top-quality professional advice from our migration agents on the specific issues that you are struggling with or unsure about in lodging your own application.

One of our best value budget migration assistance services is the Visa Advantage Service.

Who is the Visa Advantage Service for?

The Visa Advantage Service is designed for people who want access to professional advice and assistance, while managing all aspects of their Visa Application themselves.

This service is recommended for you if you:

  • Are on a budget
  • Are capable of following and managing strict deadlines and detailed instructions
  • Are reasonably confident about your ability to manage complex paperwork in English

You do not need to have your own knowledge of Australian migration law or understand detailed requirements for the Visa to begin—this is where our Visa Advantage Service comes in.

How does the Visa Advantage Service work?

You will be assigned a migration agent who will personally assist you. This migration agent will be responsible for the following:

Step 1: An initial assessment of your ability to meet all requirements for the Visa.

This is done through a personalised review of your CV (we provide advice on how to structure your CV for Visa applications to ensure you don’t leave out any important information relevant to your eligibility).

This is perhaps the most important part of this service, and almost always requires back and forth correspondence as we confirm certain things about your eligibility, including (taking Skilled Visas as an example) the following:

  • Ensuring you will meet Skills Assessment requirements (our Free Online Assessments are a good first level indicator, but we look much deeper once you purchase the service)
  • Determining your eligibility to be sponsored by a State Government (if required)
  • Ensuring you can actually score the points you have claimed in your Free Online Assessment
  • Ensuring you have chosen not only an occupation that you can successfully nominate, but that will yield the best immigration outcome for you (see my colleague’s article on the importance of choosing the correct occupation)
  • Ensuring there are no other clear barriers to your success (e.g., a 50th birthday approaching well before you will be able to apply)

If we find that there are any risk factors in your case that may mean you are not eligible, we draw these to your attention at this stage and provide you options about how to proceed. For example, you may need an extra year of work experience before you are eligible, and you can then make a choice about whether you still want to continue the service with that understanding.

Importantly, the Visa Advantage Service comes with the NATIONAL VISAS GUARANTEE: When reviewing your case, if we cannot find you a visa solution that will allow you to reside in Australia, we will give you your money back. Guaranteed!

This means that if we find you are not eligible, you will be eligible for a 100% refund of the fee you have paid us.

Step 2: Preparation of your Visa Advantage Guide

Once your assigned migration agent has established your eligibility based on your CV, we move on to preparing your Visa Advantage Guide.

As explained above, you do not need to have your own knowledge of Australian migration law or understand detailed requirements of the Visa. This is because your guide is personally tailored to your situation, and sets out the step-by-step instructions you need to follow to apply for your Visa.

As part of the guide, we explain the following:

  • How to apply for a Skills Assessment for your occupation, including whether or not you need to request a letter for “points test advice” and what the fees and processing times are;
  • Which States are currently sponsoring your occupation, where to apply for State Sponsorship and whether it is mandatory, recommended, or not necessary for your particular situation;
  • What all the other Visa requirements are, and how to obtain and present your evidence to ensure you clearly demonstrate eligibility;
  • How the Visa process itself works, including what to expect pre-lodgement, post-lodgement (during processing and the EOI) and post-grant including when you can enter Australia;
  • Where your potential areas of risk (if any) lie. For example, if an upcoming birthday next year means you will lose points, or if you will need a particular English score for points, Skills Assessment, or State Sponsorship.

The huge advantage to this is having all these instructions in writing. You can follow the process step-by-step and understand which elements of the process are particularly important for your individual case.

We also include for your convenience checklists so you know you are on the right track and haven’t missed any crucial documents.

Step 3: Access to your assigned migration agent for follow-up questions or any additional guidance

Once your Visa Advantage Guide is complete (or indeed anytime before that), you will have access to your assigned migration agent to ask for clarification of anything relevant to your case.

This service includes a 15-minute phone consultation (normally charged at $4 a minute—complimentary with the service) as well as unlimited 24/7 access to our online messaging centre for a period of 3 months.

The subscription to our online messaging centre essentially allows you to email us questions every day for 3 months, and receive professional written migration advice that directly answers your questions in return.

We respond to almost all emails within 1 working day (maximum of 2), and can answer all kinds of questions ranging from the purely administrative (such as how to attach documents to your application) to complex legislative questions such as whether the expiry date on your Skills Assessment is assessed at time of application, time of invitation, or time of decision, and how Bridging Visas interact with periods of unlawfulness in Australia.

How to get the most out of the Visa Advantage Service

As a self-managed migration advice service, the Visa Advantage Service is designed to be responsive to your needs. Unlike the Premier Service where we actively push our clients to ensure they meet deadlines and personally review and prepare their applications for lodgement ourselves, with the Visa Advantage Service, you are the person managing your own application and you are the driving force behind getting things done.

Yes, managing a Visa Application is a lot of work and is complex and time-consuming, but it is certainly within your reach with the help of our Visa Advantage Service. The more engaged you are with the process and with your assigned agent, the more you will gain a better understanding of the requirements and be able to present a solid, well-prepared Visa Application.

In our experience, here are the factors that make for the most successful Visa Advantage clients:

1) Be engaged and responsive from the start

If you respond to our requests for additional information immediately, this will allow you to get started right away. This means your Visa Advantage Guide will be prepared quicker, and you will have more meaningful interactions with your migration agent.

2) Be precise and follow instructions exactly

Migration law is extremely complex and, as is the case with much of the law, sometimes very exact and specific requirements must be met. This means if you do not provide things like exact dates of employment (as requested) or you do not answer questions on application forms exactly accurately, this may, at best, delay things or, in a worse case scenario, result in Visa Refusal and a 3-year ban from Australia.

Many clients mistakenly believe that “close enough is good enough,” but that is absolutely not the case. It is essential that if you manage your own case, you have checked and double-checked everything with precision, as we do not personally manage your case and spot the inconsistencies for you as part of this service.

3) Don’t delay and stay motivated

Besides the fact that migration law is often time-sensitive, as part of the Visa Advantage Service, you have 3 months to ask us an unlimited number of questions.

Needless to say, you should make use of that time as much as you can. Read your Guide right away, and ask any questions you have immediately so you don’t forget them.

Start to gather your Skills Assessment documents as soon as possible, so if you encounter any issues you have plenty of time to ask us about these, and follow up on our responses if you require further clarification.

4) No question is too minor

We are here to help. We want you to succeed. No matter how trivial your question may be, it could end up being of vital importance, or result in a major inconvenience if you are requested to re-do it.

Make the most of your access to us and send us as many questions as you like. We enjoy engaging with clients who are competently and successfully managing their own applications, and are happy to help any way we can, even if it is for something as minor as a query on document certification.

5) If it gets too much, know when to ask for more help

If you are finding that your case seems too complex, or you need additional assistance beyond the service, don’t hesitate to upgrade or purchase another service.

The Premier Service is a great option if your case is complex and you are finding you simply can’t manage it yourself. Alternatively, if you would like a second phone consultation or an office consultation, these are also great ways to get some guidance face-to-face or on the phone.

Alternatively, if you need to extend your subscription period to the Online Messaging Centre, this can also be done through our Ask A Question service once your free subscription period of 3 months has expired.

Most importantly, don’t forget that as a client of National Visas, you are not alone. We always have a series of service options that you can trust and rely on for expert professional migration advice.

Where do I start?

The appropriate place to start your enquiries for the Visa Advantage Service is here, where you can take a free Online Assessment to see whether you might qualify for a Skilled Visa to Australia.

Current fees for our Visa Advantage Service can also be found here.

Ivanna Cheng
Migration Advisor
MARN 1066462

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Ivanna Cheng

Migration Advisor at National Visas
Ivanna Cheng has been an Australian Registered Migration Agent for over 3 years. Her major area of expertise is Employer Sponsored Visas but she also has ample experience with Partner Visas, General Skilled Migration, Visitor Visas and Student Visas.

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