International students from India often rely on the services of migration agents in Australia when they want to extend their stay in Australia. But wrong advice can have serious consequences.
Pushpender Singh learnt this the hard way. Singh arrived from New Delhi to Sydney as an international student in 2008.
After completing his studies, Singh wanted to extend his stay in Australia and based on his friends’ recommendation, sought out advice from a Sydney-based migration agent.
“My friends recommended him as he had helped them with the PR visa procedure. So I went and met Mr ABC (named has been withheld due to legal reasons) who had a office in Sydney’s Westmead,” Singh says.
Singh was advised that he was not eligible for any visa which would allow him to continue his stay in Sydney.
“I was advised to move to Perth and apply for 187 visa, the regional sponsored migration scheme visa. He told me I did not have to get my occupation assessed for this visa. I did, as I was advised. I moved to Perth,” Singh says.
Singh took a short break thereafter to visit India. Upon his return, his Sydney-based migration agent told him that to apply for 187 visa, he needed to get his occupation assessed.
“I asked him why did you not say this before? I only had 2 months remaining on my temporary visa. I was under lot of stress,” Singh recalls.
Singh was then advised to ask his employer to sponsor him on a 457 Skilled Worker visa while he got his assessment done.
“Thankfully, my employer agreed and I got to extend my stay on 457 visa,” Singh told SBS Hindi.
Singh was then advised to enrol for a Job Ready Program which is a four-step employment-based skills assessment program that provides the opportunity to demonstrate that the skills and job readiness are relevant to one’s nominated occupation, in an Australian workplace before one applies for migration in Australia.
“I paid $6000 for this program and an additional $800 for workplace communication program as advised by the agent,” Singh adds.
Upon completion of this assessment, Singh visited another migration agent in Perth to apply for his permanent residency.
“When I met this new migration agent, he was bewildered that I had gone through the Job Ready Program and was on 457 visa. He said had I visited him a year ago, I could have directly applied for PR,” Singh said.
Singh’s IELTS score by now was invalid and he had to reappear for IELTS to prove his English skills.
Singh says he spent almost $15,000 dollars due to Sydney-based migration agent’s wrong advice.
“I spent thousands on moving to Perth, applying for a wrong visa, going through a program that was not required, reappearing for IELTS, paying agent fees and then applying for PR just because the migration agent gave me wrong advice,” he says.
Singh lodged a complaint against this agent before Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA).
“They acknowledged the advice given by him was wrong but they did not take any action against him. Nor did they order him to refund the fees I paid him,” Singh rues.
Singh today holds a permanent resident visa and lives in Perth. He wants to warn other Indians living in Australia.
“Always seek a second opinion even if your friend’s have had a good experience. And lot of information is available on the Immigration Department’s website. Always read the website and ask questions to your agent,” he advises.
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