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Immigration time and costs

Immigration lawyers are often asked by their clients how long it will take to achieve their migration goal (usually getting a visa) and how much that will cost.

The answer is: it depends.

The length and cost of your migration journey can be influenced by a range of factors including:

  • the type of visa that is right for you;
  • the strength of your ability to demonstrate that you meet the requirements for that visa (e.g. the nature of your skills and work experience for a skilled visa, the evidence to support your claims of persecution for a protection visa etc.);
  • your family composition and whether any dependents are to be included in your application;
  • your age and health; and
  • your personal history (such as any criminal activity).

An immigration lawyer can help you increase your chances of a successful migration journey, by giving you tailored advice and helping you make strategic decisions.

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Cost of immigrating to Australia

There are three main costs to think about when planning to move to Australia. These are:

  1. Application costs, such as visa application charges and legal fees;
  2. Travel costs, such as airfares; and
  3. Settling costs, such as somewhere to stay when you arrive.

How immigration lawyers charge

Your immigration lawyer will often conduct an initial meeting with you to understand your situation and advise you of your best next steps. They will tell you exactly how they can help as well as give you their frank and candid opinion about your case.

If you choose to engage an immigration lawyer, you should be aware that different immigration lawyers will charge different fees. However, there are two main ways lawyers charge legal fees:

Fixed fees

Your immigration lawyer will charge a single cost (and list what they will do and what you can expect for your money).


Time-based fees

Your immigration lawyer will charge based on the time they spend on your migration matter.

How long does the migration process take?

For most people, immigrating to Australia can take anywhere from 1 month to 5 years. But there are always exceptions.

The amount of time that Australia’s immigration authorities take to deal with your migration matter will largely determine how long the overall migration process will be. An immigration lawyer will use their expertise and training to ensure that your case is finalised as quickly as possible, whether it is:

  • an application or request being considered by Department of Home Affairs;
  • a review application at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal;
  • a case to be decided by an Australian court; or
  • a request for Ministerial intervention.

Find out more about Department of Home Affairs processing times and Administrative Appeals Tribunal (Migration and Refugee Division) processing times.

Things to remember

  • The cost and time it takes to migrate to Australia will be different for everyone.
  • An immigration lawyer can help you choose the pathway that gives you the best chance of success.
  • Your immigration lawyer will know how to prepare your application so that you are less likely to spend time going back and forth with the Department of Home Affairs.
  • If the Department of Home Affairs has refused your application or cancelled your visa, your immigration lawyer will know how to strategically represent you before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, an Australian court or the Minister if such review or intervention is the best way to achieve your migration goal or can refer you to another lawyer who specialises in managing that part of the process.
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