In Australia we’re used to filling out Government forms ourselves. Many do their own tax returns. Fill in the boxes. Anyone with half a brain can do it, surely? We apply for loans. We renew licenses. We use the you-beaut free divorce-kit when our marriages collapse. Easy stuff.
Well, welcome to the parallel universe that is Migration! The place where nothing is as it seems, and intelligent, capable men crash and burn! A place where stress exists like nowhere else, and where your entire future rests on the outcome. A place where the decision is final, and the Australian Embassy doors slam shut, leaving nothing but a MRT (Migration Review Tribunal) appeal if your visa application is refused. And probably worst is that you are pretty much kept in the dark for 9 months or more.
This is an age of specialisation. The smartest people know when to call in experts for those tasks where they are not experts. It means knowing your limitations. Down Under Visa have had I think three Australian lawyers as visa clients over the years. We’ve certainly had airline pilots, doctors, university professors and company managing directors. They call us in because they know they need an expert, and they know that so much is resting on the outcome that they can’t and won’t risk a refusal.
We sometimes have problems with local “experts” here in the Philippines. These can be the “smart person” in the family with the good job in a Government office somewhere. It can be the relative who’s gone to Australia, therefore also knows everything. Or it could be the attorney that you’ve had to consult over a paperwork issue. There is often a pride-issue with those who have moved several rungs up the social ladder here. They often develop an attitude! Not always, but often enough. And those several rungs down the ladder tend to run to them for advice too, which only makes it worse.
Attorneys can be the worst too. I did a BLOG post on this recently. Attorneys here tend to speak like experts on all matters, and will very rarely say “I don’t know”. And people tend to hang onto every word they say because they are at attorney!
I say “can be” and “tend to” because no, it’s not always the case. We deal with an attorney here for our own business matters, and we like the fact that he will happily admit when he doesn’t know something. This especially applies to matters of Australian Law, and Migration Law in particular. He has no knowledge and no training, and is happy to admit it and rely on our own knowledge and experience.
No, we don’t know everything. But we will cheerfully admit when we don’t know something. Work visas, student visas, investor visas…..totally out of date, as we haven’t touched them for years. So we keep out of them. And with matters of Philippines Law, no, we will refer you to local attorneys for that. But when we DO speak, we speak with authority because we DO know our area of expertise, which is Australian Partner Visas and Australian Tourist Visas especially for Australian Filipina couples. And we have so many runs on the board, we couldn’t count them. Had a client in the office the other month explaining to his wife why she should listen to us, because as he said “They lodge dozens of applications every year!” Dozens? He just about fell over when I told him how many HUNDREDS per year we actually lodge!