Visa consultants' misleading advice sparks concern

February 19, 2024 6:05 am

Seema Shandil

The Consumer Council is warning Fijians to beware of the services provided by visa consultants in Fiji and Australia.

This warning follows recent cases before the Council where consumers have allegedly faced substantial financial losses and received inadequate service from visa consulting firms.

Over the past three years, the Council has registered over 60 complaints against visa consultants, worth over $180,000.

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In one of these cases, a couple engaged a consulting firm to aid in their application for Australian student visas, paying over $10,000 in fees.

They later discovered that they had received incorrect advice regarding their eligibility, leading to substantial financial losses.

In a separate scenario, an applicant faced losses when he followed his agents’ advice to apply for an Australian student visa for cookery studies, despite already having sufficient qualifications in a completely different field.

Chief Executive, Seema Shandil says in both of these cases, the consultants failed their clients, who were expecting expert career and educational advice which could likely lead to a successful visa application.

Shandil says unfortunately, some consultants lack the necessary expertise, providing uninformed guidance that overlooks individuals’ career paths and potential.

She also says simply obtaining a visa through any means should not be the sole objective.

Instead, Shandil says the focus should be on leveraging and enhancing the current skills and educational background of applicants to improve their future visa prospects.

The Council strongly emphasizes to visa consultants and firms the importance of providing accurate advice to their clients.

Shandil is also advising consumers to exercise caution and carefully consider their future before making decisions.