Robert Chelliah, the representative of the Australian Migration Agents (AMA) of Perth, talks to Khmer Times’
May Kunmakara during the soft launch of his office in Phnom Penh and discusses the process of migrating to Australia, the life goal of many Cambodians, including how to obtain a business visa. Last month, the Cambodian government approved Mr Chelliah’s request to open an office in Phnom Penh and act as a registered migration agent for the region.
KT: Why did it make business sense to open an office in Phnom Penh?
Mr Chelliah: Cambodia has a strong ‘push’ factor, meaning that people like to go to Australia to study, do business or meet the family. The push is very high. But from what I’ve seen, they are not fully knowledgeable about applying for visas. They make many mistakes.
I believe we are the first agent operating in Phnom Penh registered with the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA). We assist people with visa applications, strictly adhering to the law to make sure everything goes smoothly. If they use the wrong agent, they face the risk of having their application rejected.
KT: What kind of visas do you offer?
Mr Chelliah: We concentrate on business migration to promote joint venture investment between Australia and Cambodia. We facilitate the process of obtaining visas for businessmen who want to come to Australia to invest and open up businesses. Over the years, we’ve helped many business owners and investors take advantage of opportunities to expand their businesses and investments into Australia in the various sectors approved by the Australian government.
KT: What are some of the biggest challenges when filling an application for a visa to Australia?
Mr Chelliah: Because Australia’s migration law is very complex, very exacting, people always end up making mistakes in their applications if they do not resort to specialised agents like us. The real challenge for those interested in an Australian visa is the fact that many of the agents out there are fraudulent. To make sure the application process goes smoothly, they should hire the services of a registered agent. If something goes wrong during the application process, applicants can submit a complaint with the embassy if they are using a registered agent. However, if their agent is not registered, they won’t be able to file a complaint.
KT: What is your strategy to educate people about the importance of using a registered agent to apply for Australian visas?
Mr Chelliah: We are working on it. We are a 70-year-old company. But in Cambodia, we are only about a month old. First, we are working on educating the public. We are empowering them with knowledge; what they can do, what they can’t, how to do it, etc. Most people are afraid of being cheated, so our role is to educate them on the migration law.
KT: How do you educate them?
Mr Chelliah: We educate them through the industry’s code of conduct, which has been translated into Khmer. For example, people need to know that real agents have a 6-digit number by which they can be identified. Every agent must have this number. If they don’t have it, they are not legal agents.
KT: What other countries and cities does AMA have a presence in?
Mr Chelliah: We have offices in Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and Cambodia, but we can also handle cases from cities or countries where we don’t have an office.