We say it every year, but what a year…..
In the same year that we celebrated 100 years since the first woman started practising law in New South Wales, Ajuria Lawyers celebrated its first 10 years. A huge thank you to everyone who has been part of our journey.
In March 2018, Ajuria Lawyers welcomed Ron Kessels as a Partner. Having previously worked together as business partners, this appointment had a certain symmetry for Lillian and Ron, and clients and the Ajuria team are all benefiting greatly from Ron working with us.
On the political front, yes, we have a new Prime Minister, however many are unaware that a new Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs was appointed in 2018. The immigration portfolio continues to be part of the mega-Department of Home Affairs, headed by the Hon Peter Dutton MP. However after a brief time – the first time since Federation – without a dedicated Immigration Minister, the Hon David Coleman MP was sworn in to this portfolio in September 2018.
During the 2017-2018 program year, the Department of Home Affairs issued 162,417 permanent visas, below its ceiling of 190,000. The conversation about whether this number was too high or too low is never far away, with Prime Minister Morrison attempting to link migration numbers with a more general conversation about population policy. It seems to be a difficult conversation to have. Meanwhile, processing times for applications in the pipeline have increased significantly.
Another feature of the 2017-2018 program year was a 46.2% increase in the refusal rate. This has been felt across the industry. The Government’s explanation is that there is a higher proportion of higher risk cases across the program, and higher scrutiny of applications is required to protect the Australian community. However, practitioners have also commented on the quality of some decision-making; it must be said that this time of frequent legislative and policy change has not been easy for practitioners or decision-makers.
In March 2018, the 457 visa was finally put to rest, and by the end of this year, all outstanding 457 visa applications should be finalised by the Department. The 457 visa was replaced by the Temporary Skills Shortage Subclass 482 visa, known as the TSS visa. Other changes that had been announced by former Prime Minister Turnbull in April 2017 were also gradually introduced during the year. Most particularly, the mandatory Labour Market Testing requirements and the Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) levy, have had the greatest impact on clients.
The official word is that there has been an overall reduction in the number of sponsored temporary visas granted during 2018. However, our experience has been quite different; for many of our clients, skills shortages continue to be an ongoing challenge and the TSS visa and Employer Nomination program continue to be viewed as an important part of the solution. Our clients have also observed that applications require a significant amount of additional work to meet new requirements.
Many of our visa challenges in Australia are mirrored in other jurisdictions. During 2018, Ajuria Lawyers partnered with like-minded immigration specialists in New Zealand, the USA, the UK, China, India (among others) and now offers management of global visa programs to our clients.
Looking forward to 2019, Ajuria Lawyers will continue to advocate at the highest level for positive change in Australian immigration law and policy, and keep our clients informed via our newsletter and regular updates. At the same time, we continue to be dedicated to delivering the best possible results for clients, one application at a time.
Many of our team will be taking a well-deserved break with family and friends, and we hope you will be too! Our last day in the office (officially anyway!) is Friday, 21 December, and we will all be back on deck on Monday, 14 January; a small team will be in the office from Monday, 7 January. As you know from previous years, during this time, we are only an email away if you need us. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ajuria Lawyers thanks you for your support during 2018, and wishes you all the very best for a relaxing holiday season and a rewarding New Year.
DISCLAIMER This information is current as ofand subject to change. The information contained in this publication is of a general nature only. It should not be used as legal advice. To the extent permissible by law, Ajuria Lawyers and its associated entities shall not be liable for any errors, omissions, defects or misrepresentations in the information or for any loss or damage suffered by persons who use or rely on such information. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.