‘DIY’ of course means Do It Yourself, and this has always been popular among hardcore fans of Bunnings or IKEA.
In recent years ‘DIY-ing’ has become trendier across a broader range of services (think hairdressing during lockdown…), and this can also include attempting your own visa applications.
In addition to the cost savings, the proliferation of instructional content on the internet is another reason to embolden the DIY-er. It is true that some visas have relatively simple criteria and can be comfortably applied for with or without the engagement of a professional, (e.g. a tourist visa or working holiday visa). However, it is also true that going it alone may not be sensible if you are dealing with a complex matter, such as a business / investor visa, employer sponsored visa, protection visa, or even a partner visa. In these cases, the DIY-er bears a substantially higher risk of refusal, as well as other possible consequences that were not within their contemplation.
The following situations are commonly found in the DIY applications:
Excessive reliance on ‘almighty” forums, moments or apps: Firstly, most of the DIY-ers’ comments and advice may not be 100% accurate in the legal sense. Secondly, DIY-ers should note that others’ circumstances may differ to your own situation; therefore, others’ successful experience may not be fully applied in your case. DIY-ers should also be advised that people posting their advice on these media are normally not liable for their advice; your interests are therefore not protected if you choose to adopt others’ advice. Overall, the detriments caused by excessive reliance on the information from these sources may significantly outweigh the advantage.
Information from the Home Affairs’ (DoHA) website: it is increasingly common for DIY-ers to consult the DoHA website. It must be acknowledged that the DoHA website is an authoritative source where much of the fundamental visa information is published, and DoHA is devoted to providing users with more abundant information by expanding their website. However, it must also be noted that most of the information available on the DoHA website is not exhaustive. DIY-ers may not find the comprehensive explanations in relation to some complex situations, such as: whether A and B can claim de facto relationship if A is still legally married with C? The better view would be that knowledge obtained from DoHA website is an excellent guide, but in some instances, it might not be sufficient for DIYers to best present your case.
The source of law: all Australian legislation is accessible on the Internet. More experienced DIY-ers might review the (hopefully) relevant Acts and Regulations before embarking on their visa applications. You may easily find the statutes by searching ‘Migration Act 1958’ or ‘Migration Regulation 1994’ on most search engines, however, it must be noted that sometimes the outcomes may not be from authorised, current, or complete sources. Despite the efficiency and the convenience that the internet gives, it may be overlooked that some legislation shown on your screens may have been repealed, superseded, or amended. Further, some changes and nuances in the law is achieved by legislative instruments, or policy changes which are not readily known or easily accessible to DIY-ers.
Interpretation: even after you have managed to locate the legislation, you must also correctly interpret its meaning. It is true that most of the terms can be construed by adopting their natural and ordinary meanings. However, migration law and government policy is closely inter-related, the interpretation of Migration Law should be through the prism of public policy. Also, given the legal institutions (separation of powers) of Australia, some points of law are also subject to precedents of the Federal Court or High Court. Overall, merely adopting the face meaning in some circumstances may not be sufficient.
Overall, this article does not intend to completely discourage a DIY approach, which can be convenient, affordable and flexible. However, DIY-ers should be mindful that not everything can be prudently DIY-ed. If you do have a problem in preparing your visa application, you should at least seek some preliminary legal advice from a legal practitioner or registered migration agent, rather than recklessly making the application solely on your judgement. Other than a probability that the visa may be refused, some other consequences may be incurred, such as loss of government fees, unlawful status, re-entry bar, immigration detention and loss of work rights to name a few!
In summary, the pros of applying for a visa yourself:
You have full control of the Visa application process
You save on legal costs which could be substantial, depending on the visa type
Opportunity cost: You need to be absolutely certain on the type of visa applied for, any better alternatives that may exist and the ability to fulfil the prerequisite conditions of the visa type.
Complexity: The rules and requirements are in a constant flux. Occupations which are on the list today may be taken off without any prior warning (although, lodged applications may in most cases, still be considered)
False Economy: Visa refusals rarely result in refunds of the application fee.
Delay: Requests for information on incomplete applications can substantially delay the outcome
Other consequences: Can include becoming unlawful, losing your job, and/or finding yourself in immigration detention
Do It yourself? Don’t Implode Yourself!
*Disclaimer: This is intended as general information only and not to be construed as legal advice. The above information is subject to changes over time. You should always seek professional advice beforetaking any course of action.*
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