Making a visa application is like putting together the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle – you have to do it slowly, steadily, one piece at a time until everything fits. It can be a painstaking process, especially because any mistakes along the way can cost you time or money.
Documents can be a particular source of difficulty. Specific documents are needed for many reasons, including proving:
- Country of origin
- Financial position
- Health status
- Good character
They must be ordered and presented in a particular way to ensure that they will be accepted by the Australian Government.
Original documents and copies
Original documents are precious. They are usually issued just once and cannot be replaced without much inconvenience and expense. You may also need them for more than one reason. For example, your passport allows you to travel internationally, but it also allows you to apply for a bank account and a migration visa. You can’t simply give your passport away every time you need to prove your identity.
The Australian Government recognises this and accepts certified copies of original documents for migration visa applications.
Certified copies of documents
When a document is certified, it is declared as a true copy of the original document.
For example, let’s say you need to provide your birth certificate to prove your identity in your visa application.
You would make a photocopy of it and take it to an authorised person, along with the original document. The authorised person would check the copy against the original to make sure it’s a true copy. If satisfied, they would sign and date the copy and write a declaration on it that it’s a true copy. They would also record their qualifications for making the certification.
Once the copy document has been certified, there is no need to provide the original in your visa application.
Who can certify documents in Australia?
Only people with particular qualifications can certify documents. This is to eliminate the risk of fraudulent or bogus documents.
People who can certify documents include:
- Registered migration agents in Australia and overseas (only for migration purposes)
- Police officers
- Justices of the Peace
- Doctors and other medical professionals
There are also staff members at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) who can certify documents.
Who can certify documents outside of Australia?
The Australian Government will accept documents that have been certified in other countries, provided that the certifier is recognised by the law of that country as being able to certify documents (such as registered solicitors of that country).
DIBP has offices in various countries and all have at least one staff member who can certify and witness documents.
Australian diplomatic or consular offices also provide certification services. These offices are located in cities all over the world. It is important to note, however, that only Australian documents or documents intended for use in Australia can be certified by these offices.
In China, for example, certification of documents is provided as part of the Notarial Services of the Australian Embassy. Documents can only be certified during particular times and you will be charged a fee for certification.
In the United Kingdom, similar conditions apply and papers need to be properly organised and labelled for certification, otherwise officers may decline to certify.
Registered migration agents outside Australia may also certify documents.
Preparation is key
Putting together your documents for a visa application can be a complicated task. Although there is a range of people who are recognised as being able to certify documents, it is still necessary to go through the process of making sure they will be recognised by the Australian Government.
As a registered migration agent in Sydney, Move Migration can arrange for your documents to be certified, or help you find someone in your home country to take care of things for you. A little bit of effort at this stage may save you many problems later!