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Advice from our Principal Migration Consultant in Cagayan De Oro, Geoffrey Ward

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Which is the Best? Permanent Visa or Student Visa?

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Daily Australian Immigration Advice from our Principal Migration Consultant in Cagayan De Oro, Geoffrey Ward.

Often I am asked whether a student visa is the best visa for Australia for every client and does it guarantee Permanent Residence. For the first part of the question, the short answer is no, not in every case, and for the latter part an unequivocal no, as there are no absolute "guarantees" in Immigration law, and quite often in life itself.

Over the many years of practising Australian Immigration Law, my clients possess one of either two goals:

1. To obtain a "Permanent Visa" and "Australian Citizenship" for them and all their family, so they can enjoy the privileges of unlimited work rights, free health care (Medicare), Australian passport, right to vote, ability to sponsor other family members to migrate to Australia, and many others.

2. To work or study (or both) in Australia, save some money and return to the Philippines or their home country.

A fundamental obligation of a Registered Migration Adviser is to "act in the best interests of the client". Therefore, my primary focus is to provide accurate and detailed advice in a candid and frank manner that will set out the strategy (e.g. visa options, timing, requirements, costs etc) to help my client achieve his or her goal.

In other words, if a client's goal is Permanent Residence (PR) and they qualify for a permanent visa, without having to first travel to Australia, then the logical course of action should be to prepare all the necessary documents and lodge an offshore PR visa. To do otherwise (including recommending a student visa), would be irresponsible and amount to professional negligence on my part.

In some cases, the only option is a student visa for a client (and that's ok), but all clients deserve the right to be adequately informed of the ALL their options and to know what the likely OUTCOME will be with each strategy. In other words, is the student visa and course of study that you have been recommended going to provide you with a strong chance of obtaining a permanent visa or an employer sponsorship at the end of the visa?

Many students think "I will go to Australia to study and work and that will buy me time to prepare for the permanent visa", but given that immigration law changes so frequently often the student has not bought time but lost time, because the law has further changed to their disadvantage.

If you just want to work, earn money and return home, then study any course that will compliment your existing qualifications and expertise, but be aware of an important point. Student visas require the student (you) to show that you have access to adequate funds to show you can cover cost of living, airfares, course fees etc. 

Many students in the Philippines do not have the funds themselves, so they take out a loan or pay someone to "show" the funds. That's not a problem in itself, BUT if you decide to close that loan or cancel the arrangement with your financial sponsor when you are in Australia and instead you use funds from your employment in Australia to pay for your studies then you have mislead the Immigration Department. This is a serious offence, and will often lead to a refusal of any future student visa and potentially the 4020 rule being imposed on you. The 4020 criteria places a 3 year bar on an applicant from applying for nearly any Australian visa for providing false or misleading material or information.

Over the years, I have met with thousands of students from many walks of live and from all around the world. Roughly 3-5 years ago, the pathway from student visa to PR was fairly seamless and the prospects were good; however, the Australian Immigration Law has changed dramatically since then, inasmuch as the model has shifted from a "supply" driven model to a "demand" driven model. Instead of handing out visas to any applicant, the Government favour employment sponsorships, because it's a win win outcome. The employer is happy they have filled a much needed skill shortage and the migrant is happy to have a job and permanent visa.

Obtaining PR from studies in Australia is very difficult, and for students studying Diplomas or Certificates, they will not even be eligible for a Temporary Working Visa at the end of their studies, especially if the education institutions are not reputable. Therefore, their options are very limited.

In summary, all clients should seek personalised immigration advice from only a Registered Migration Adviser before they embark on one of the most important decisions in their lives. 

There are only 21 Registered Agents in the Philippines with 19 in Manila, 1 in Cebu and 1 in Mindanao (Geoffrey Ward of Australian Visa Consultants ) All other agencies are unregistered. See the list of registered Agents at the Australian Government Website (MARA) 


The biggest issues that arise with unregistered agencies is that they 

(1) They do not have a competent and current understanding of Australia's complex immigration law. You can liken it to a Quack Doctor vs a Qualified Doctor. Sometimes you might get lucky and be healed with a Quack doctor, but in other cases instead of given you proper medicine or surgery the Quack doctor prescribes you the wrong treatment and the consequences can be catastrophic. Relying on luck is a fool's game.

(2) They are not acting in your best interest but in their own best interest. Did you know that most, if not all, of the unregistered agencies are receiving very high commissions from the education providers that you are being enrolled in (15-20% or more) and in addition to that they are also charging you a fee! Grabe! 

So offcourse they are going to push you towards a student visa - it's easy money. The courses being recommended are with colleges they are registered as Education Agents with and in most cases these colleges are not reputable at all. Meaning, when a future employer sees your qualifications, they are unlikely to think much of it (e.g. Xavier University vs Unknown). BUT, more importantly the courses are not leading you towards your goal of PR and Citizenship. Yes, you are earning some money, yes in are in Australia and enjoying a nice time, but you are potentially giving up a much bigger opportunity for something far less. It's all about Instant Gratification vs Long Term Fulfilment.

If you want to obtain Specialised Immigration Advice and know ALL your visa options, then you can contact the office on either 088 323 4252 or me directly 0906 407 1457 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  to request a One-on-One consultation.

Geoffrey Ward
MARN: 0851489
Principal Migration Consultant 



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 Australian Visa Consultants Operating Hours Monday to Friday: 8am - 5pm 

Phone +613-8648-6525

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With offices based in Philippines.

Mindanao branch: 2nd Floor, St. Gregory's Building, 6th cor. 17th Sts. Nazareth, Cagayan De Oro City, 9000 Philippines

 Australian Visa Consultants Operating Hours Monday to Friday: 8am - 5pm 

Phone +63 88 323 4252

Cellphone+63 927 530 7852 

Email  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


 Luzon branch: Level 10-1 Fort Legend Tower, 31 Sts. & 3rd Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, 1634 Philippines

 Australian Visa Consultants Operating Hours Monday to Friday: 8:30am - 7pm  
       Saturday 10am - 3pm

Phone +63 02 224 4334

Cellphone+63 927 530 7852 

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