What are you required to pay if you change your mind about your visa application? And if you get lawyer bills, what are they for? Visa applications sometimes have to be stopped or withdrawn. Your choices and life can change quickly. In this article we look at what happens in this situation.
A common situation: Not moving an application forwards
Let’s be honest: Most people only think about this situation once they are inside it. They have decided not to keep moving with their application. Or, all the work has been done but something happens and they decide not to lodge it. Then, they start getting all these bills from their immigration lawyer. Bills that they can’t understand because nothing has happened.
It appears to make sense: Why should you pay them? Nothing – as far as you can tell – has happened. You won’t be lodging an application, your entire situation has changed. If nothing happens, if no application is lodged, then why should you pay any fees? It feels a bit like paying for a holiday that you’re never going to have, right?
The hidden ‘product’: Expertise
While you may not see it once you’re in a situation like that, lawyers provide expertise that they’ve taken years and years to acquire. That expertise is a combination of a lot of study, a lot of experience, and continual study requirements. Knowing this at the outset helps everything fall into place for you. Going into a relationship with a lawyer is just like going into a relationship with a real estate agent; only, instead of getting a house, you’re getting knowledge and help.
And the reality is that if you don’t pay it, then your lawyer can take legal action against you to recover costs. That will impact your credit line, and nobody wants that.
What am I required to pay?
This situation is one of the reasons why Australian lawyers are required to provide documents commonly called Cost Disclosures.
The Cost Disclosure tells you exactly what you are required to pay, and when. It shows you where your responsibility lies. It should also help you to understand who you pay for which part of the immigration process. For example, your lawyer, or the Department of Immigration.
A cost disclosure is like a product statement. Before you agree to work with a lawyer, you will need to read one and indicate that you have understood it. Before work starts with you, the law firm must know that you have read and understood that agreement.
Closely reading the Cost Disclosure will tell you what your lawyer will do for you, how, and how the fees are configured. It will tell you what to do if you have a dispute in terms of the money. And – importantly – it will tell you what you are required to pay when you decide not to move an application forwards.
What if you don’t understand it?
Hopefully your immigration does what we do and puts the Cost Disclosure in simple terms for you. If the Cost Disclosure is in lawyer-speak, that’s not helpful to anybody! So if you don’t understand it, or can’t read it, be honest with them. Tell them what you don’t understand and ask for an explanation. And make sure you do that before they start work with you.
If you do all of these things, then you will never be that person who stops the process and then doesn’t understand why they are getting bills. It gives you the power up front to decide whether to work with a firm, knowing that life can change on you.