Do You Need a Migration Agent If You Already Have a Temporary Work Visa?

Question from an SMG reader about switching from a 482 visa to a Permanent Residency visa.

I moved to Sydney four months ago on a sponsored work visa, but want to try and get an independent visa.

I contacted a migration agent and it seems I have a really good chance of getting a permanent residency (points look good, my profession is on the list, I have a PhD. and my skills have been assessed and approved by APS, I'm from the US so hope to get a high score on IELTS).

Two questions:

1. My case seems pretty straightforward so I was wondering if I should just apply alone without an agent?

2. How should I handle this as far as my employer? If I tell them, it's pretty much letting them know I want to leave, but I'm not sure of the timeframe this is going to take (and if it's going to go through), so at some point, I have to tell them. I think either way they will be upset (and I can't go through our company lawyer/visa person), but I want to minimize it as much as possible.

Things are not going so well at work and I'm actually thinking of quitting my job.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks so much!

Choosing between a 189 visa or a 186 visa.

First off, since you're from the US and have a Ph.D. you won't have to take an IELTS unless you need the points which sounds like you don't.

The norm for changing from a Temporary Sponsored Visa to a Permanent Residence Visa is to wait two years then ask the employer if they are interested in sponsoring you for a more permanent position and an Employer Nominated Permanent Residence Visa 186.

Let's face it, everyone on a 482 Visa or a Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa is temporary. It isn't until they switch to a PR Visa that they are permanent.

Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186)

This visa is for skilled workers from outside Australia or skilled temporary residents who live and work in Australia. It has three streams.

  • The Temporary Residence Transition stream is for subclass 482 visa holders who have worked for three years full time and their employer wants to offer them a permanent position.
  • The Direct Entry stream is for people who have never, or only briefly, worked in the Australian labour market and have at least three years relevant work experience in their occupation..
  • The Labour Agreement stream is for people sponsored by an employer through a labour or regional migration agreement.

186 Employer Sponsored Visa information from the Department of Home Affairs

I've included that bit of info for our other SMG readers that may have been wondering about how long they have to wait to start the 186 Visa process.

Now, your specific situation is a bit different.

Work doesn't sound like it's going well for you. If you do quit your job, you have 60 days to find another employer to sponsor your visa.

But that's not what you asked, is it?

Ah, but the processing time for a 189 Visa can be as long as 10 months. So, if you send in your application and the same day quit your current job, there are no guarantees that your application will be approved before the 90 days are up. In this case, you will need to look into bridging visas. Talk to a migration agent about what bridging visa works best for your situation.

Getting everything together for your application will also take time. You are probably at a good starting place if you still have most of your information for your 482 visa application. Be sure to double-check things like how long your medical exam is good for etc.

You sound like you're a great candidate for a 189 visa and you've already talked to a migration agent that seems to think so too.

I would say go for it. Start the process of getting your application together. But…

BUT in the meantime start looking for a new employer that is willing to take over your sponsorship.

Why? Your visa could take longer than two months for approval and most do. In fact, I just heard from another SMG reader who started her process for a 186 visa in December and didn't actually get her visa until May. And that's with employer sponsorship.

You will also still have an income to live off of by switching employers. That will take the stress off of the application fees and, if you need one, paying for a migration agent, not to mention things like rent and food.

Now if you don't find an employer and your two months are up then the worst is you fly home and wait for the outcome of your application there.

Actually, since I'm not a migration agent and cannot advise or know all the ins and outs of the visa process, I would get back in touch with the migration agent you talked with and ask about bridging visas. It could be that, since you have a 482 visa already, you might be able to get a bridging visa for the time between applications. That would be very handy info to have.

Whatever you decide to do, DO NOT get sacked. This is your first job in Australia and you don't want to start your work history off with getting sacked.

Now I'm guessing your question about going ahead without using a migration agent is based on cost. Right now your looking at about $4,045 AUD for just the visa application if you do it yourself. Fees for a migration agent to help out with your application range from $2,200 to $4,750 according to the Department of Migration Agents.

That's on top of your visa application fee.

Ok, let me back up and see where we are at.

Yes, start the visa process on your own BUT, at the same time, start looking for a new employer to take over your visa sponsorship. A good place to start your search for a new employer is, an international recruiting agency in Australia. I believe they are based in Sydney.

Second question, ah yes, how to handle your current employer.

They don't need to know you're applying for a 189 visa, do they? How will they know? Are they a reference in the application? Why would they care?

I don't think that would matter to them, but I guess it depends on how bad things are at work. If they got wind of it then they might easily put two and two together.

I think that this isn't so bad as you might think because you're in the middle of it.

I think you would be totally ok saying something like, “I really love it here and want to stay on a more permanent basis rather than being temporary. I talked to a migration agent and it sounds like I have a good chance. So I thought I should just go for it.”

They will probably just point out that for a 186 sponsored visa you have to wait two years but to that, you just reply that you know, that you did your research and you're fine with covering the cost.

Once they realize they don't have to pay or deal with sponsoring you, I bet that would be the end of that conversation.

Ok, this is a huge reply to your two questions.

Hope it helps.

UPDATE: Just got an email with an update and it's good news so thought I should share it with you!

Hey! Just wanted to update you–I got my permanent residency!!! Less than three months!

I ended up going with a migration agent but probably could've done it myself. I was just nervous and wanted “peace of mind”, especially with the situation I was in.

I could've just gone to find another sponsor, but don't want to be in that type of situation again.

I did take the IELTS to make sure I had clear-cut points but probably didn't need to. The 189 depends on the profession too and the ceilings on invitations.

I was SO lucky and got my invitation within a day!

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