Keeing on top of legislative changes

3 questions to ask yourself

RMA Let’s Chat Discussion Group members often list ‘keeping on top of legislative change’ as one of the major headaches they have in their migration practice.

If this is one of your issues too, I invite you to consider and answer the three following questions that may see you wondering what the fuss was all about.

Question 1: Do I (want to) work in that area of migration law?

In recent years, there have been stacks of legislative change in migration law across a broad spectrum of visa types; from refugee to employment, parent to partner. Whilst it is good to have a broad understanding of a variety of visa categories, no one can know it all. That old adage, ‘Jack of all trades and master of none, applies here. If you are not presently working in a particular area of migration law, then ask yourself if you really need to understand the changes at all or in any level of detail. If you are confident to say ‘no’ to prospective work then I believe you do not need to know about any change in that specific area. If you receive an enquiry, you can pass it to a colleague or refer the enquirer to the MIA site to find a member in a particular practice area or to the MARA website. 

If, however, you are working in that particular area of migration law then, yes, you need to know!

Question 2: Do I need to be on top of it now?

Hopefully gone are the days of last minute legislative changes. Recently we have seen legislative changes  notified well ahead of time, giving time to consider the effect of the changes before they are implemented and allowing RMAs to advise clients to change strategies as appropriate.  But consider whether, in reality, you need to be on top of the legislative changes right now. Take for example the Sponsored Parent (Temporary) visa that was introduced in April / July 2019. Whilst you may practise in the area of family visas, did you need to know the finer details six months in advance? Now the answer may very well be yes. But not necessarily. So consider if you need to be on top of the changes immediately and if so, allocate the time to do so. 

Question 3: Where do I start? 

When new regulations come out, they are not yet integrated with the existing legislation. To read them, therefore, you have two options. If your answer to Q2 is yes, I do need to be on top of it now, then you will open the legislative instrument and have the existing regulations open on Legendcom and go through each provision one by one. This will take time and patience and is best done quietly and alone. 

If your answer to Q2 was ‘no’ then you may wait until they are incorporated into the main legislation, making it easier to read wholistically. 

In the interim, access news and updates on the DoHA website, skilled newsletters and industry newsletters.

And of course, liaise with your colleagues through the Let’s Chat Discussion Group’s FaceBook page and monthly meetings. During 2020, at each monthly meetings, we will have a 10-minute Masterclass delivered by a subject matter expert on different visa categories and topics. During the year, we will also hold Zoom sessions to discuss specific issues or topics arise that are of interest to members. 

By keeping focused on the work you do, by not trying to be all things to all people, and by accessing valuable resources (including yourself), you can address legislative change in a methodical manner, updating and integrating your knowledge and skills to be a valuable asset to your clients.