Carina Ford Immigration Lawyers


Frequently Asked Questions


+ Why use specialist migration lawyers?

The legal team at CFIL are qualified, practising lawyers with a wealth of experience in the area of immigration law. We are also all registered migration agents. In Australia, a person who charges for legal services must not only be suitably qualified, but must also hold a current practising certificate. These certificates are renewed each year, subject to the lawyer having current professional indemnity insurance and meeting other requirements.

Australian immigration laws are constantly changing. In addition to the Migration Act 1958 and its associated Regulations, there are thousands of pages of policy guidelines and instructions, court judgments and Administrative Appeals Tribunal decisions, all of which affect the way the law in Australia is interpreted and applied. We have the qualifications and expertise to advise you about your best options for migration to Australia.

Carina Ford, Rick Gunn and Sarah Thompson are all LIV Accredited Specialist Immigration lawyers, all of whom have a high level of experience and knowledge of immigration law. All LIV specialists are listed on the LIV website. Follow this link to the LIV website to learn more about the LIV specialization program and what benefits it has for you as a client.

Your confidentiality is assured when you are a client of Carina Ford Immigration Lawyers. Every lawyer's clients are subject to legal professional privilege, which means that communications between a lawyer and client are confidential and legally privileged.

Our lawyers also have extensive general legal experience. Immigration matters can often have implications for rights and responsibilities in other areas of law (for example tax law, family law, employment law or criminal law). Non-lawyer agents are unlikely to be aware of many of these associated issues. Even if we do not have the specific expertise to advise in these areas, we have numerous legal contacts to whom we would be happy to refer you.

Remember that sometimes the best advice is not the advice you want to hear. We will not advise you to proceed with an application that we know will be unsuccessful. We will also independently assess your options. We are not affiliated with Education Providers or other agencies.

+ Do you offer Free Assessments / First Consultations?

No, CFIL charges a first consultation fee. There are a number of reasons for doing so.

"Free assessments"

Many migration agents (especially online agents) claim that they will provide a "free first consultation". Usually, this is simply a form with a series of dropdown lists which will tell you, based on certain answers, whether you appear to be eligible to make a particular migration application. With such 'free assessments' you rarely speak to an agent (let alone a migration lawyer), and so you are not receiving any actual advice. The response you receive is based on your responses to a set of questions. Even if you appear to qualify for a particular category of visa, you will then be required to transfer money to the agent to commence the application.

You are protected / We are protected

When you pay the first consultation fee, it means that you become our client, and that we will stand by the advice we give you. Being our client means that we are required by law to retain your records for seven years, and there is no doubt from either side that we have provided you with comprehensive initial legal advice in an official capacity.

While it does not mean that we have formalised the relationship (that is, agreed to act on your behalf in relation to your application by entering into a costs agreement), you can be certain that we have kept a record of the initial advice we have given you, and that we will stand by it.

You can trust us

Because we are lawyers, your first consultation fee is deposited into the Carina Ford Immigration Lawyers Statutory Trust account. This account is subject to annual independent audits by the Law Institute of Victoria.

We don't need to offer a free consultation service

We know that when you get advice from us, it is expert legal advice, and we are confident that it is accurate every time. It has always been our policy to charge clients for a first consultation. Quite simply, many other migration agents offer a free first consultation as a means of getting clients "through the door". Our expertise and the quality of service mean that we do not need to offer a free first consultation. Clients seek us out because we are the best at what we do, and we will never advise a client to proceed with an application that we know will be unsuccessful.

Payment of the first consultation fee can be made by cash or credit card directly into our Trust Account. The details of our account can be provided upon request.

+ Can I apply from overseas?

In most cases, yes. We have many overseas clients and (assuming that you are able to apply) we are more than happy to coordinate your application from offshore.

+ Will my visa application be processed more quickly if I use your services?

Unfortunately, no. Any agent who tells you that they can get an application fast-tracked is probably being dishonest or may be involved in potentially fraudulent activities. The actual processing times of applications are set by DIBP and are generally based on a "first come first served" principle.

However, it stands to reason that if your application is properly prepared, and all necessary documentation has been included, there will be fewer delays in processing the application. This will also ensure smooth processing of your application. If problems arise during the processing of the application, you can also be sure that your matter is in expert hands.

+ Is it better for me to use an Australian-based agent or a migration agent in my own country?

It is better to use an Australian-based registered migration agent who is registered with OMARA. In our view, you should choose one who is also a registered lawyer and a specialist immigration practitioner. CFIL meets all of these criteria. By doing this, you are ensuring that you are using the most qualified, experienced and ethical agent possible.

+ How long is my initial Permanent Residence (PR) visa valid for?

The visa provides a return facility which enables you to travel in and out of Australia as a permanent resident for a period of five years from the date of the grant of the visa.

+ Can I travel during the period of this PR visa?

Yes, you can enter and exit Australia as often as required, as it has a multi-entry facility.

+ When can I apply for Australian Citizenship?

Currently, in order to qualify for Australian citizenship, you will require four (4) years lawful residence in Australia immediately prior to making an application for Australian citizenship with at least twelve months as a permanent resident.

In addition, you can have absences from Australia of no more than twelve months in total in the four (4) years prior to application, and no more than three (3) months in the twelve month permanent residency period prior to application. Time spent as a student in Australia will count towards the 4 years (although this will not be time spent as a permanent resident).

+ What are my rights as a Permanent Resident?

As a permanent resident of Australia, you are entitled to:

  • Live in Australia indefinitely;
  • Work without restriction (except for the Commonwealth Public Service or Armed Forces);
  • Study in Australia;
  • Obtain a Medicare Card
  • Obtain social security benefits (however there is often a two year waiting period before this entitlement activates, so please check with Centrelink first); and
  • Act as a sponsor for other visa applicants providing you meet all sponsorship requirements.

Yes. Because all of our advisers are also practising lawyers (all of whom hold current Practising Certificates with the Legal Services Board) we are able to offer additional legal assistance in areas where migration agents cannot. A number of our staff are able to provide advice on minor criminal matters (which is an area which we feel is currently poorly catered for). In addition, many of our lawyers have a keen interest in sports law, which is essentially administrative law. CFIL already represents a number of large sporting organisations in relation to their migration matters, and this an additional area of interest for us, and something we can offer clients.