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Migration policies must be changed to combat skills shortages in firms, says lawyer

One immigration lawyer discusses how allowing more skilled migration is essential in combating skills shortages for firms. Here, she details some needed changes. 

user iconJess Feyder 15 March 2023 Big Law
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Allowing more skilled migration into Australia has the chance to aid the skills shortage experienced across various industries in Australia — this is the same for the legal profession, maintained immigration lawyer Arnela Tolic from Tolic Lawyers.

The acute skills shortage across Australia has had companies falling into liquidation, bankruptcy and administration, she told Lawyers Weekly.

The issue has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, “which saw over 600,000 of migrants leave Australia as they had not been supported to maintain their stay in Australia through feasible visa pathways”, Ms Tolic explained. 


“The current immigration law system is broken in terms of extended processing time, additional red tape on employers who seek to sponsor foreign staff who are unable to fill vacancies locally due to lack of available labour force,” stated Ms Tolic. 

Apart from increasing staff numbers, there are other important opportunities for firms that arise from increasing skilled migration, continued Ms Tolic. 

One being that legal professionals from non-English speaking backgrounds often become engaged with clients from similar cultural backgrounds and attract such clientele, she said. 

“Having flexible migration policies that allow skilled migrants to move to Australia easily will enable not only law firms to address imminent skill shortage but also add value to the firms offering by engaging a law practitioner that migrates to Australia with understanding certain cultural norms and speaks another language other than English,” Ms Tolic explained. 

Along with expanding clientele, law practices would see improved work culture and support of diversity, she added. 

“Additionally, more places for family migration would allow families to be reunited and would help working parents to go back to work or take up a full-time job,” she explained. Having other family members take on caring responsibilities can play a large role.  

How can needed changes happen?

“The current immigration law and policies require urgent attention to allow Australia to still be considered as a first destination for tourism, education, skilled migration, family migration and work,” Ms Tolic posited. 

“Migrant law systems and policies with relation to sponsoring of international staff are outdated given the ongoing red tape adding to companies to advertise the position locally for 28 days on Workforce Australia and two other national platforms.”

“Updated and more realistic immigration law policies would enable Australian businesses to flourish, by enabling more skilled migrants to migrate to Australia on a temporary work visa that is processed within a set timeline of 14 [to] 21 days, which are realistic timelines and can be enforced with current DOHA systems.

“This can be enforced by having a dedicated business unit of DOHA process employer-sponsored visa[s],” Ms Tolic stated.

“The current labour market testing requirements must be altered urgently, or we face a risk of losing many more skilled migrants to other countries [that] are as urgently seeking skilled migrants.”

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