I applied for my first 189 skilled independent migrant visa on my own. This was subsequently refused because I hadn’t provided the correct skills assessment. The refusal letter gave me 35 days to leave Australia or come up with another plan.
We decided we wouldn’t make simple mistakes again, so we started looking into agents for professional help. I had made pals with the manager of a local coffee shop and she was also a migrant. She spoke about the support her agent provided at the 11th hour after her own visa refusal. I trusted my pal so I decided to contact her agent. We’ll call them Jamie. I wanted to see if they would be able to come through for me now in my time of need.
Finding Our Agent
We sent off emails and Jamie replied straight away. Whilst Jamie had no experience with appealing a visa refusal, they were happy to research and try to help me stay in the country. We were grateful for Jamie’s help as other agents we contacted didn’t get back to us quite as quickly. Jamie’s fees were affordable for us and when we outlined our plan to apply for another visa to remain in Australia they advised they could also support us with that.
Jamie agreed that appealing the visa refusal didn’t seem likely to be successful but encouraged us to submit it anyway. This would then allow me to stay in Australia past the 35 days on a Bridging Visa A. In short, I would be allowed to remain in Australia and continue working until the appeal had gone to hearing. This was expected to take up to 12 months.
We considered another visa option in the meantime, a partner visa. However, Jamie asserted that reapplying as a skilled independent was the best way to go. Based on my circumstances Jamie calculated my points for skilled independent migrant visa. We felt the calculations were too high in the area of my work experience and queried whether the documents we provided were indeed sufficient for the higher points. Jamie reassured us that my work experience prior to getting my degree would qualify and the evidence was suitable. But we still harboured doubts and we were finding contradicting information online in forums.
Seeds Of Doubt
The more questions we asked the more our confidence in Jamie dwindled. We contemplated finding another agent but ultimately decided that it was our own mistakes that led to the first refusal. At the end of the day, we decided to follow Jamie’s professional advice so as to avoid making silly errors again. Turns out this is was our first wrong turn.
Having a refusal meant that I wasn’t allowed to apply for any more substantive visas (eg. skilled independent migrant) whilst onshore. So any application would need to be made while I was outside of Australia. I spent hours on the phone to the immigration department to clarify whether I would be able to re-enter Australia once I left. I was assured that I would be allowed to come back in so long as the appeal was still processing. Once Jamie gave the word that we could apply, I would go to Bali for a couple of days whilst they submitted my application. This was the grand plan!
The Final Straw
An invitation to apply came months later. Thats when everything began to fall apart. Jamie told us that my work experience, prior to my degree, couldn’t be counted. They said I wouldn’t have enough evidence for those points we had claimed. I didn’t understand why this only came to light on the last day. In the last hour (ok the last 3 hours). I had sent everything months before, back when we decided to go for the skilled independent migrant instead of a partner visa. We were advised that we would not meet the threshold of evidence for the points claimed and that we were sure to be refused. There was no need for a trip to Bali as it would be a waste of money. We asked Jamie how this could have happened. Why this wasn’t identified at the very beginning? Jamie gave dismissive answers. No apology. No acknowledgement that they had completely messed up our application.
We immediately decided, without a second thought that we would no longer be taking advice from Jamie and terminated the contract. We were still waiting for the appeal to come to a hearing. And I still had an unknown number of days remaining to legally reside in Australia.
Why wasn’t the evidence we provided early on the in process reviewed and determined to be sufficient? Why was new evidence required on the last day, and not months ago when we still had loads of time to procure it? Why had Jamie not noticed what we were missing? Why did we decide to continue to trust Jamie with this application when we doubted our own decision to accept the advice?
After much contemplation, heartbreak, upset, and lost Aussie dollars we’re starting over with a new agent and another new application.
With that, I’ve put together a list of things you should look for in your agent. It is really a list of things I wish my agent had!