Issue 02 | Article 01

Migration accreditation has changed

Here’s what you need to know to capitalise on the changes.

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Published 18/01/2021

Published 18/01/2021

If you’ve been looking into dipping your toes into immigration law, 2021 is the year to act.

The recently passed Migration Amendment Bill 2019 means that since March 2021, you no longer need to be a registered migration agent to provide legal advice. 

And the timing could not be more serendipitous. 

With the fallout of COVID-19 sabotaging many people’s plans of crossing international borders, there’s never been a more urgent need for immigration advice. Nor has there ever been a greater opportunity for lawyers looking to specialise in this space.

Here’s what you need to know to capitalise on these changes.


New rules, new opportunities 

When COVID-19 hit, many people in Australia found their travel plans had unwillingly and unexpectedly changed. At the same time, Aussies abroad were finding it exceedingly difficult to return home. 

These pressures all amount to one glaring fact: there’s a desperate need for migration legal services in Australia right now. And there will be for a long time to come. 

That’s where you come in.

Before the incoming amendment, it has been an offence for Australian legal practitioners to advise on immigration law (a misdeed that would cost you 60 penalty units or a whopping $13,320). A lawyer’s only option was to register as a migration agent – which is a costly and time-consuming process.

But, after March 2021, an Australian practising certificate is all you’ll need to advise on immigration law.


The nuts and bolts in an immigration lawyer’s toolkit

Although you now don’t need a specific qualification to deliver immigration advice, you do need to acquire new knowledge and skills to ensure you advise your clients accurately.

For example, you will need to understand:

  • The legislative framework underpinning Australian immigration law and the decision-making process
  • The recent immigration updates relating to COVID-19
  • How and when to lodge a persuasive Ministerial Intervention request

You will also need to know how to:

  • Make valid visa applications and lodge relevant evidence and submissions
  • Identify jurisdictional error for judicial review application purposes
  • Identify ethical and professional responsibility issues that arise in immigration law

Ready to build your immigration skill set? 

The College of Law’s three-part foundational series will impart you with the knowledge and practical skills to assist your clients in all areas of immigration law. You can complete each course on a stand-alone basis – or in any combination.

Part 1: Practice Skills and Ethics – on-demand (4 CPD units) 

Part 2: Visa Fundamentals – on-demand (6 CPD units)

Part 3: Character and beyond primary decisions – on-demand (6 CPD units)


Diving deeper in judicial review

If your client wants to appeal a decision relating to their visa application, you’ll need to understand the judicial review process – and how to put your client’s case forward, accurately and effectively. 

Key parts of this process include:

  • Maintaining an awareness of the strict time frames involved
  • Assessing whether you client has a case (i.e. if there has been an error of law)
  • Preparing the review application and associated affidavits if required  
  • Collating and reviewing any supporting documents

And if a court date is set, you’ll also need the skills to speak on behalf of your client during the hearing.


Want to gain a deeper understanding of these changes? 

A robust understanding of the judicial review process will add considerable value to your immigration skillset. Through the viewable on-demand Judicial review of migration decisions on-demand course (3 CPD units), you’ll gain a 360-view of the migration jurisdiction in courts.


Changing lives: refugee and protection visas 

Do you have a special interest in immigration, migration and refugee law? Then you’ll need to learn all about the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).  

The AAT often reviews decisions surrounding visa outcomes for migrants and protection visas for refugees. This process can be costly – and extremely stressful for those involved. 

That’s why, if you want to work in this area, it’s crucial to have the right training on how to deal with the AAT.


Is it time to build your AAT knowledge? 

Running migration matters at the AAT on-demand (3 CPD units) teaches you how to handle your clients’ cases with the AAT and get the results they’re after. You’ll learn how the AAT undertakes its caseloads – and how to comply with practice directions, request adjournments and submit information requests. 


Ready, set, go!

With these changes now in play, now’s the time to sharpen your skillset in immigration law. A world of opportunity awaits – for those who are ready to grasp it with both hands.




The evolution and rise in online dispute resolution (Centre for Legal Innovation)