Applying for your student visa can seem like a massive hurdle between you and your study abroad aspirations. Filling out tonnes of forms, speaking with government authorities and the gruelling wait to hear if your application is successful can seem insurmountable.
For many students, the option of hiring a visa agent to walk them through the process with the promise of a better chance of being accepted is worth it to save the stress of doing it alone.
A visa agent can cost anywhere between US$370 and US$1,800 according to The Australian Department of Home Affairs, so while it may give you more assurance, it comes at a cost.
If you’re wondering whether hiring a visa agent is the right decision for you, here are the pros and cons to help you choose…
- You’ll save heaps of time – rather than sifting through the information, working out what documents you need and filing tonnes of forms yourself, an expert who is already aware of the system will guide you through the process. This will save you heaps of time sat researching on the internet, and reassure you you’ve not missed anything important.
You’ll be sure you got it right – there is a wealth of information about applying for your student visa on the web, some of it conflicting with each other. Even if you’re super organised and you’re sure you’ve got the visa application down, it’s still easy to miss something. By hiring an agent, you’ll have an agreement they will get it right and be assured you have the best chance at getting your visa.
- They’ll help you with translations – if you’re applying to study abroad, you likely have sufficient language skills anyway. But, the official terminology used in visa applications can go beyond the vocabulary you need to survive your studies. Your visa agent will be able to translate difficult words and ensure you understand what’s needed from you, while translation issues may lead to mistakes if you apply for the visa yourself.
- They’ll liaise with government authorities for you – rather than having to deal with immigration authorities yourself; a visa agent will do the tricky bit for you. This can include phone interviews, dealing with appeals or even just checking deadlines. While you could do this yourself, visa agents have experience dealing with government authorities and take the anxiety out of applying.
- It’s a lot of money – this might sound obvious, but it’s easy to let costs build up when preparing to study abroad. Aside from your expensive international tuition fees, you also need to buy plane tickets, deal with exchange rates and settle into a new country. You usually have to pay a fee to apply for your visa anyway, and applying for a visa agent can really skyrocket these costs. While the service they provide is valuable, you need to ask yourself – are you prepared to pay for something you can do yourself?
- You give up autonomy – by letting a visa agent apply for your study permit, you lose control over what you submit and the timeline of submission. Although they have experience doing this and have your best intentions in mind, it can be stressful not having full autonomy over your application. If you like to maintain total control over your life, going through a visa agent probably isn’t the best idea. Similarly, if you’re slightly unorganised, giving up your autonomy might be for the best.
Wave goodbye to the freedom dance with a visa agent. Source: Giphy
- You risk going with a bandit company – countries such as Australia and Canada have insured visa agents meaning you won’t be stitched up, but make sure your company are legit before handing over your money. Some bandit companies take advantage of unsuspecting students who need their student visa.
To make sure you’re money doesn’t disappear with no sign of your permit, make sure you research the company and go with one with good reviews if possible. Many companies now have Google reviews, so you can compare people’s experience before parting with any cash.
Here at Study International, we know how confusing applying for your student visa can be, and understanding what your student visa entitles you to is not always straightforward. If you need any help and advice, check out our ‘How to Apply’ section, and our Know Your Rights series. Please drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you can’t find an answer to your queries.