Myths & Facts
Can Australian Government Immigration Officers give you LEGAL ADVICE ?
No they CANNOT.
Fact: Statutory laws make it a serious offence for ANY non-lawyer including government immigration officers and MARA-registered migration agents (non lawyers) to give legal advice that only lawyers can.
Government immigration officers are public servants (not lawyers) and therefore under the laws of many countries including Australia, they DO NOT AND CANNOT give legal advice. What public servants like government immigration officers in fact do is merely give generic or worse, one-size-fits-all “information”. However many clients, after talking to government immigration officers, understandably feel frustrated that they could not or did not receive “the full picture”. And some, after following the “information and help” given by government immigration officers and then receiving failed visa applications or appeals, complain bitterly about feeling misled, deceived or not being treated fairly by them.
So what does this all mean and what can you do about it? It means that preparing your Australian immigration appeal or visa application should never ever be about merely filling out forms or giving answers according to “information and help from government brochures or immigration officers”. Rather it must be prepared according to the most up-to-date and applicable Australian Immigration LAWS & POLICIES. Experience with clients prove that not doing this even in so-called “simple and straightforward” visitor/tourist visa applications (and particularly from certain “risk” countries) can too often result in totally unnecessary failure, disappointment and costs. Full and comprehensive legal help from someone like AG, a firm of immigration legal experts with over 20 years of immigration experience, is one of the best ways for “doing it once and getting it right THE FIRST TIME”.
Therefore, consult with one of our AG Immigration Professionals BEFORE YOU EVER COMMUNICATE with any government immigration officer. Best of all, get an AG Immigration Professional to communicate for you about your case SOLELY AND DIRECTLY with government immigration officers. You can get this done by clicking on one of the links below:
How to make YOUR BEST visa application or case submission ? Do it once and get it right the first time
More and more today, answering questions from government officers at interviews or providing information and documents to government immigration authorities should NEVER be about ignorantly “baring all” or ignorantly and misguidedly (and nearly always, DANGEROUSLY) believing that “if you have done nothing wrong, then you have nothing to fear or hide”. Truly, such an approach is absolutely and categorically ill-advised from a legal perspective and all too often will be fatal for your visa application or immigration case.
What is needed in fact is for you to always keep a steadfast “law-centric” focus. And what does that mean? It means that before you prepare yourself for your immigration interview, visa application or case submission, you should first understand some basic “what I first need to know” rules: At AG, we call them “The Know Rules”.
ONE: (obvious) you must accurately know what documents/information BY LAW YOU MUST disclose to immigration authorities;
TWO: (not so obvious) you must accurately know what documents/information which BY LAW YOU DO NOT have to disclose (and therefore should not or even MUST NOT volunteer disclosure) because not only is such disclosure by law not obligatory, but on the contrary, it may or will in fact needlessly and unnecessarily damage your interview, application or case; and
THREE: (also not so obvious) you must accurately know what documents/information which, DESPITE STEP TWO, you should (or even must) volunteer disclosure because such disclosure is highly legally relevant and so will in fact strongly increase the chance of SUCCESS of your interview, visa application or case submission.
Applying common-sense, it is easy for most people to see the quite obvious relevance of a lot of documents and information to their case or visa application. However, with every case, a critical legal mind will discern some critical and strategic pieces of evidence (evidentiary information and documents) that are not so obvious to most but which if disclosed will often make the difference between success and failure. With such evidence, only an expert legal mind can offer legal advice, from legal principles and evidentiary law, if they ARE relevant (and so should be disclosed) or NOT relevant (and also may safely legally NOT be disclosed).
If in doubt, consult with one of our AG Immigration Professionals for help.
Which is more important for the success of your visa application or immigration case: LEGAL HONESTY? MORAL HONESTY?
Often clients complain that despite their best “totally honest efforts with Australian and other immigration authorities”, their visa application or case still failed. And much too often one finds that naive and uninformed honesty (aka “moral honesty”) is the reason. It has often lead to unnecessary misunderstanding or suspicion in the minds of government immigration officers – which in turn resulted in the failure of the immigration case or visa application.
Unfortunately, there is much evidence to support the rule (rather than the exception) that “moral honesty” does not work – at least with government immigration officers. However, “legal honesty” does. Take a dramatic instance. When a famous former US President said under oath that he “did not have sexual relations with that woman”, and was then threatened with impeachment for lying under oath to a grand jury, he was saved when found by a judge not to have lied because, according to the judge, sexual relations did not include oral sex and therefore the former President had in fact been “legally honest” about what he had said – even though of course most people still say the former president lied (meaning he was not “morally honest” even if legally so). One gets the picture.
The undeniable conclusion is that it can cost you dearly to be “morally honest” which usually happens when you are “honest” without first knowing the law yourself or else receiving LEGAL ADVICE (see 2 above). Often, you will be saving yourself great expense, stress and disappointment (from a failed immigration interview, case or visa application) if you remember to GET LEGAL ADVICE BEFORE YOU SPEAK to government immigration authorities, attend interviews or LODGE any papers.
If your case is ordinary and not complex, then obtaining PRE-INTERVIEW guidelines/helpful tips or a full, paper-check service from an AG expert immigration lawyer to confirm the law/policy correctness of your visa application or case submission BEFORE you lodge will not cost you “an arm and a leg” – in return for your personal confidence and peace of mind.
CAUTION: The legal consequences for not disclosing what by law you must or should legally disclose are very serious. If unsure, please FIRST seek legal advice from one of our AG Immigration Professionals before you deal with government officers.
Why do visa applications and immigration cases fail?
There are of course many reasons why visa applications and cases fail. Professional experience with clients proves how easy it is for the legally not-so-savvy (with an otherwise reasonably good case) to fail, resulting, at best (if legally allowed), in a costly appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) or the courts. At worse, you can be barred (for a few years and sometimes permanently) from making ANY future visa application and therefore barred from entering Australia. This is a very heavy price to pay for not seeking professional advice on your visa application or immigration case.
A very common reason for application failure is the legal insufficiency of the submitted evidence (or “lack of legal substance”) to support your application. In other cases it can be due to submitting the “wrong kind of evidence” with the application. This is mostly due to a lack of sufficient understanding and knowledge of the actual laws and policies requiring what you need to do. The actual laws/policies are not found in brochures, leaflets, handouts and pamphlets which only summarise the basic requirements in generic “one size fits all” terms. Worse, they are often confusing and sometimes dangerously misleading when dealing with difficult aspects of the actual laws and policies that apply to your case – for this, there is no substitute for a full and comprehensive consultation with an immigration specialist lawyer.
There are numerous other reasons that may explain a visa application or case failure, including:
- Failure to keep up-to-date with the latest immigration laws/policies (Immigration changes occur swiftly and often require you to take immediate and strategic action, yet full details about these changes are not publicly available or are hard to discover and understand).
- Misinterpreting and misunderstanding immigration laws/policies that often are complex and ambivalent.
- Reading and following a too literal interpretation of misleading/confusing guidelines, brochures and pamphlets (as mentioned, there can be no substitute for referring to the actual laws/policies which are the final authority as to what you are required to do).
- Acting unwittingly on misleading or incorrect information or “advice” from government immigration officers.
- Carelessness – perhaps from misplaced confidence.
- Poor quality legal submissions.
You should clearly understand that even the smallest error or defect in you lodged documents that constitutes a “legal failure” to satisfy just one of the numerous applicable legal criteria for your case WILL RESULT IN TOTAL FAILURE of your case or visa application (there are no “second chances”). So it does NOT mean that only BIG errors produce failures (contrary to popular belief). And remember that ANYTHING that you communicate (by saying/writing or not saying/not writing) to government immigration officers or in any visa application has the potential to catastrophically affect SUBSEQUENT visa applications. Therefore, before you are able to communicate or prepare and lodge papers without ANY “relevant legal error”, you MUST at least fully understand the applicable, up-to-date laws/policies. This must seem obvious enough.
For all the above reasons, it is unsurprising many hundreds of thousands of immigration cases and visa applications fail each year. With full and comprehensive professional advice, many of these in fact would have succeeded.
“ONE BEST CHANCE” – So make sure you “Do It Once & Get It Right The First Time”
Especially when it comes to getting your permanent residency, realistically, most applicants will probably only have ONE BEST CHANCE in their lives “when their factual circumstances and the applicable laws “come together” and are both PERFECTLY ALIGNED for a successful visa application – in such situations, “doing the best” should NOT be an option. You need to “get it right the first time”. This is why AG’s policy has always been to take great care when preparing and managing visa applications – so that clients can make the most of their ONE BEST CHANCE to convince immigration officers to approve their case.
For over 20 years, we have handled visa applications and other cases many of which involved preparing appeals or fresh new visa applications – all as a result of failed do-it-yourself projects.
With immigration, it is always better to err on the side of caution. AG can advise clients just “what” constitutes your ONE BEST CHANCE and “when” might that happen so that you can prepare yourself and your immigration case or visa application well IN ADVANCE. And in this way maximise your chances of successfully migrating to Australia (if that was your aim)..
“Doing the best” is NOT nearly the same as “Getting It Right”. When preparing your immigration case or visa application (especially permanent residency), your priority must be to make sure you “Get it Right the First time” and not merely “Do the best you can”. After all, you are doing this to secure your dream of a new life in a new land for you and your family – surely enough reason to make sure you “Get It Right The First Time”.
Another reason to get it right the first time is to avoid wasting a lot of money. Government fees for lodging applications for many visa categories have become very expensive. These fees will NOT be refunded to you merely because your application is unsuccessful.
There are other reasons why you should make sure you “do it once and get it right the first time”.
First, if you fail, you may not be legally entitled to lodge an Appeal because under the law, not every failed applicant is entitled to appeal. So, get it right the first time.
Second, even if you are legally entitled to appeal, you may find the government appeal application fee and the cost of hiring an immigration lawyer to represent you at the appeal tribunal or court too expensive to afford. So, get it right the first time.
Third, once your Australian case or visa application has failed, it can become very difficult and sometimes impossible to “legally re-make your story” in a way that gives your appeal or fresh new visa application a good chance to succeed. This is because what you have said or not said in your failed case or application, and how and when you said it are all extremely critical factors which can seriously affect your chances of successfully undoing the failure. So again, get it right the first time.
Fourth, always remember that records of your failed immigration case or visa application are kept for many years by the Government. You can be sure these records WILL be used to check against any inconsistent (conflicting) statements that you may later or subsequently make in an appeal or fresh new application – with potentially disastrous results. Best of course NOT to generate such records, and therefore … GET IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME.
And last but not least, consider the “human” cost to yourself and your family – the mental and emotional distress, depression and frustration, not to mention the time-wasting – that follow all failed immigration cases and applications.
For all those reasons, make sure you “Do It Once & Get It Right The First Time”.
Consult with your chosen AG Professional – to ensure that your visa application “gets it right the first time”.
Hire “the cheapest” or hire “the right” professional for the job ? (Don’t be “Penny-wise and Pound-foolish” !)
From wine to handbags … most people know that “you get what you pay for”. Professional immigration services are no different. So the next time you think of hiring “the cheapest migration agent” to help with your visa application, stop to consider the “pennies” you are possibly saving (by hiring the cheapest) and then compare that with the hefty future costs (“pounds”) that you could be risking should your visa application fail mainly because you had hired “the cheapest”. Receiving news of a failed visa application is very costly – economically and emotionally … no refunds of previous application fee, your failed records kept by the government for future reference, the expensive fees in getting an immigration lawyer to help you do the Appeal (if you legally qualify), great sadness/anxiety/depression and further uncertainty of your future, etc. ( see 5 for full details about the full monetary and human cost/loss many people suffer after receiving news of a failed visa application).
Hence the wisdom in the centuries-old idiom … “don’t be penny-wise and pound foolish”. And so, for your next immigration job, why not consider using an expert AG Immigration Professional BEFORE you sign-up and hire “the cheapest migration agent” to handle your case. You will often be surprised at how little more it costs to hire an experienced AG Immigration Professional to be fully responsible for your case from start to finish – in return for your total peace of mind.
Why are Australian immigration cases and visa applications often confusing and difficult to do?
It is widely accepted by most experienced immigration lawyers that Australian immigration law and procedure – to be found in primary and secondary immigration legislation, immigration case law, substantive and procedural immigration laws and government immigration policies – are amongst the most legally complex and convoluted in the world to understand. It is simply this underlying difficulty that causes the confusion, doubt and errors when you are trying to prepare “do it once and get it right” visa applications or draft strong submissions in support of your case in the course of managing fully and correctly documented immigration cases and visa applications.
Consult with an AG Immigration Professional if you need help to fully and comprehensively prepare strong legal submissions, “do it once and do it right the first time“ visa applications or all other important legal papers for your immigration case or matter.