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SBS Radio Interview: Inside the Mind of a Former-Immigration Case Officer (Part II)

In the second part of our principal migration agent's SBS Vietnamese Radio interview, Tony answered 26 questions from the audience ranging from visitor visa refusals, partner visas, 189 independent skilled visas, parent visas and many more.

Being able to put yourself in the visa case officer's shoes and know what they are looking for is key to maximising the chance of your visa application being successful.

See below for transcript in English.

In the first part of this video, Tony addresses key topics like: factors Immigration considers when assessing applications, how case officers assess visa applications, what is considered a strong vs weak application etc. See English transcript for part 1 here >

We hope this insightful video will help everyone increase their chances of success!


Kim Anh: We have some questions from the viewers. Lanh Huynh: My parents had previously applied for a visitor visa and were refused entry. Now, they are applying for the visitor visa again. However, it has been 5 weeks since the submission. Will it likely be refused again?

Tony: It’s hard to say without knowing the applicant’s circumstance and profile in depth. For visitor visa applications though, the most important factor is the incentive to go back to Vietnam. There are 3 main criteria: 1) the reason for visiting, 2) strong evidence of financial capacity and 3) the incentive to return to Vietnam. For example, if the applicant is unemployed or they don't have any remaining relatives in Vietnam, this would make the application riskier.

Kim Anh: In the audience's case, his parent had been refused the visitor visa. Can they receive the reason for refusal?

Tony: (Other than what is stated on the refusal letter) 80-90% of the time, the reason for refusal is not having enough incentive to return to Vietnam.

Kim Anh: As Tony mentioned, the officer will be able to see the visa history when they process the applications. However, it has been 5 weeks since the application was submitted. Do you think there is a high chance that this application will be rejected?

Tony: I think a five-week wait is not that long. For Vietnam, a processing time of 3-5 weeks for visitor visas is normal. In this case, it does not necessarily mean that the application will be rejected.

Kim Anh: If it has been longer than 5 weeks?

Tony: It depends. From my experience, if the case officer has already decided to refuse your application, they will not delay the refusal. If they intend to refuse, they will do so within the day or, at the latest, a week. In the audience's case, I believe that because your application has been refused many times, the manager might consider it a complex case and assign it to another person. This would prolong the processing time. In this situation, I would recommend providing more documents to prove that you have reason to return to Vietnam.

Kim Anh: How can you do that if you already submitted your application? Can you provide additional documents after lodging your application?

Yes, you can provide further documents after applying. If the applicants provide additional information, the Department of Immigration is obliged to consider all the provided information.


Kim Anh: Question from Trong San. He says he wants to apply for a 482 visa as a butcher. Will it be okay to submit and how long would you estimate the processing time to be?

The processing time for 482 visas are now faster than 457 visas, so it might only take a month to grant the visa.

Now, whether or not the occupation can be sponsored also depends on the business. The most important criterion that makes or breaks a 482 visa is having a genuine position. The business owner needs to prove that they have a demand for that occupation. For example, restaurants that want to sponsor cooks can successfully have a visa approved quite easily. Whereas, if a restaurant wanted to sponsor a marketing specialist instead, it would be harder for them to prove that the role is necessary. In your situation, you must consider whether a butcher is necessary for your business to operate. Of course, there are also other requirements involved with this visa type. As for myself, as a case officer, if I opened the application and saw that a butcher shop is sponsoring a butcher, then I would likely not see an issue, as far as occupation goes.


Kim Anh: Question from Xi Muoi Nguyen. Her aunt applied for a visitor visa twice and was refused because she declared different occupations in each application and was unable to provide enough financial capacity. She declared her job as a housemaid and as a small business owner in two applications.

Tony: Yes, I understand that is it difficult to prove your income as a small business in Vietnam. The evidence of income is very important because if the business earns a significant income, they will have stronger incentives to return. However, if the business has a small income, the officer might assume that the applicant might be willing to abandon the business and remain in Australia. For example, you cannot simply provide a profit and loss statement, you must also provide invoices etc.

Kim Anh: So in this third time applying for the visa, which occupation should she declare? If she only works for a small business, it might be difficult for her to provide the documents.

Tony: Yeah, I do think it is a challenge for us Vietnamese. Jobs with a fixed income is better than owning a small business. For high-risk applications, the Department of Immigration may be very strict when it comes to evaluating the visa. For example, depending on the circumstances, for applicants with a small business, with no fixed income, with no dependents to take care of in Vietnam, I believe that the application will not be successful no matter how many times it is applied for. Although the applicant might have a genuine intention to visit Australia only temporarily, it is difficult for them to satisfy the requirements for a Visitor visa.

In your situation, my suggestion is that in your new application, you can explain why the reason for the previous visa refusals is not correct and that the circumstances have changed. Otherwise, the second method is that if the applicant has any close family unit members, she can ask them to sponsor the her under 600 Visa (sponsored family stream) and pay the fee. If you use this method, on one hand, the duration that you can stay in Australia might be shorter and more expensive as you have to make a payment. On the other hand, this method allows you to have the chance to visit Australia and thus improve your visa history in order to apply for a Visitor Visa in the future.


Kim Anh: So you should apply for another visa type, then re-apply for Visitor Visa. Questions from Lanh Huynh. What should I do now?

Tony: You can contact the Department of Immigration via Global Feedback Unit and enquire about your application. It is compulsory for the Department to respond to you. If the case takes longer, you will soon get results. However, I recommend that you should only contact them if the application has been in review for more than 6-7 weeks. Otherwise, if you contact them too early, they will just advise that your application is within the processing time.


Kim Anh: Question from Cau Ba. He wants to apply for Partner Visa in Australia but he does not have an official visa, only a Bridging Visa. He understands that he will need to have special reasons so that he can be eligible to apply for a Partner Visa in Australia. Which are the reasons that are allowed for visa submission? And should we have the documents at the time of submission or after?

Tony: You will need to provide all the documents at the time of lodging the application.

From my experience, it is quite difficult to satisfy those reasons. For example, if the applicant has a new-born child who will be an Australian citizen, the Department might allow them to submit their application in Australia because if one of the parents is leaving Australia, this will have a negative impact on the child. Alternatively, it might be allowed if the applicant has a health problem that might prevent him/her from returning to his/her country. In your case, you should consult with your migration agent to see if there is a specific solution for your circumstances. Otherwise, it’s better if you apply for the Partner Visa offshore.


Kim Anh: In the waiting time for their 143 Parent Visa, his parents traveled to Australia (on a visitor visa). Will this have any impact on the 143 visa processing time?

Tony: No, the 143 visa is separate from the Visitor Visa. I don’t really remember the exact processing time currently, but it should be around 3.5 - 4 years. If you want to know, you can send the email to the visa processing department and receive an automated-response email. In this email, you will be able to see the date of processing. You can also view the processing times on the Department of Immigration website.


Kim Anh: Common reasons why an applicant is refused an Australian visa?

Tony: It depends on the types of visa and also on the processing officer.

With the visa types that have specific requirements that the applicants can all satisfy, it will be easy to get granted. However, with visa types that have discretionary requirements, it depends on the processing officers.

For example, when applying for the Student Visa, there is one requirement called GTE – Genuine Temporary Entrance, in which the applicant must prove that they intend to come to Australia temporarily for study-purposes. In most cases where the student applicants get refused for the Student Visa, they are unable to explain why the course in Australia is valuable to them. They mention that they want to apply for PR or other types of visas, or that they don't have a strong reason for why they want to study their selected course.

For Partner Visas, the common reasons for refusal are if the applicants cannot provide sufficient evidence to prove the genuiness of their relationship. Proving this can be a challenge for applicants, because we often only share our relationship with family members, friends or relatives. In some situations, (I've come across) applicants who are very confident about their genuine relationship, but they don't know how to prove it through documentation. Their applications are unlikely to be successful, especially if they unintentionally provide information that might raise suspicion. For example, if the applicant says that they do not normally take pictures.

I do have some clients who don’t like taking pictures. I usually advise them to take more pictures because lacking photos could lead to an unsuccessful application.


Kim Anh: Question from Anthony Tran: For Visa 189, 190, do case officers contact previous employers for investigation? If yes, will they contact them directly or they will contact via the Vietnam Embassy in Vietnam?

Tony: The answer is no. Generally, you need to complete a skills assessment before you apply for the visa. The case officers will base their decisions around your 189/189 application on the result of your skill assessments, and other documents of course. This comes back to the previous point, the case officer will decide if they have a reason to make a call based on the feeling that they get about the application, whether it is strong and genuine. In contrast, if they feel like this application is not strong or if they flag a specific unofficial document, they will make a call. Therefore, it comes down to the way that you provide the documents.

By the way, the audience also asked who will make the call. Usually, the case officers will go through the Vietnam Embassy to contact the employers. In some cases, the case officers will investigate in Australia by using interpreters. However, they prefer working with the Vietnam Embassy because it is easier; they know Vietnamese and are knowledgeable about the visa requirements.


Kim Anh: In case the visa is denied, what should the applicant do?

Tony: It depends on the visa types and the reasons for your refusal.

If you are refused a visa due to the discretion of the case officers, you can always go to the AAT to challenge the decision. They will have a separate department to process your application in a similar manner to the first time. However, this time they will not process your application based on feeling, they will base the application on Immigration laws and policies. This could be more advantageous for the applicant. However, if the requirement is a straightforward one such as a being below a certain level of income, you might be refused for the second time.

On the other hand, since the cost of the AAT is expensive and takes more time, you might find that resubmitting your application is a better way as it takes less time and money. Also, you definitely should seek professional advice for this. Since professionals probably have worked on many applications, they will know whether your application will be more likely to succeed if you choose to resubmit or go to AAT.


Kim Anh: Question from Cau Ba. He applied for the 820 Partner Visa, he has been separated from his wife for 8 years but he has not divorced yet. He can prove that he has been living with his current partner for 12 months in a de facto relationship.

Tony: Based on this information, I think it could be possible. You don't need to have the divorce be finalized as long as you have been separated for a long time and there is no connection with your previous spouse. You don’t need to get married either in the case ofthe 820 visa.


Kim Anh: KA: Question from Misa Pham. As for Visa 189, Core ICT units belong to occupations on the long-term list, is she eligible to apply for a PR?

Tony: I think that she is referring to the skill assessment. If you want to get the skill assessment as an ICT business analyst, ACS has a list of subjects that are required in your study and lists what percentages you get according to their list. If your qualification meets their requirements, you will be able to get the skill assessment. Once you get the skill assessment, you will be able to apply for PR. However, getting a PR also depends on other factors besides the skill assessment. You have to take into consideration whether you can earn enough points. You will need at least 95 points for PR with IT occupations now.


Kim Anh: Question from Nguyen Vy asking about the Visitor visa. Her sister's family is staying in Australia on a Visitor visa. Now the husband wants to stay in Australia and study. Will he be able to transfer to a student visa and include his wife and children in his application?

Tony: It depends on the Visitor visa that they have. If there is a condition called "No further stay - 8503" preventing the applicant from applying for another visa, then they cannot. Otherwise, if there are no such conditions, then he will be able to apply for a student visa.

You have to also consider whether or not he is eligible to apply for a student visa. As I mentioned earlier, it depends on the feeling of the case officers to see what the applicant has done overseas, why he wants to study in Australia, and if the course will be valuable for him. If these factors can persuade the case officer, only then should you go for it. If the application is not strong enough, you should find a way to make it stronger. Otherwise, you should not apply for the student visa. Especially considering, a student visa needs to proof of Genuine Temporary Entrant, which could be hard for the applicant to persuade the case officer of.


Kim Anh: So you mention “No further stay - 8503”, if there is a condition like that, it means that there is no chance for the applicant?

Tony: (It's not easy, but) there is still a way. You can ask for a special consideration to remove this condition, for special reasons such as you needing to stay back to take care of someone else etc. This reason has to occur after you were granted the visa.


Kim Anh: Question from Trong Sang. Instead of applying for Visa 482 as a Butcher, now he wants to apply as a Slaughterer. How long will it take at the moment?

Tony: The processing time is still the same regardless of the occupation.


Kim Anh: Due to time limitations, I would like to end the Livestream here. In the coming February, Tony will come back in the next Livestream – Luat Di Tru and focus more on Partner Visas. Can you please give an overview of the topic of the next Livestream?

Tony: I will discuss when you should and when you should not apply for Partner visas. There are many streams for Partner visas, such as applying from overseas or from Australia. I will explain how you should choose the correct Partner visa stream. Then I will discuss the main requirements for this visa and how to provide the documents so that we can meet those requirements. This type of visa depends heavily on the discretion of the case officers. Therefore, I will talk about how the case officer will assess the application in Australia and explain how we can meet these requirements.

Kim Anh: So it means that you will provide the information based on your experience both as a case officer and as a migration agent?

Tony: Yes, of course!

Kim Anh: Thank you for your time.


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