For those living in NSW, you can now have certain legal documents witnessed through virtual means i.e. through video conference. This is a result of a temporary regulation introduced by the NSW Government called the Electronic Transactions Act 2000 (NSW) (“the regulation”) and its aim is to cater to the physical distancing requirements in the current COVID-19 environment and reduce face-to-face contact.

Some of the legal documents included under this new regulation include Wills, Enduring Power of Attorneys, Affidavits and Statutory Declarations. These documents still need to be signed by each party with wet ink signatures (i.e. each party still needs to physically sign with pen on paper), however, the witnessing of the signature of the person signing the document can be done via video. Once the witness has seen the other person signing the document via video, the witness then needs to sign a scanned copy of the document or counterpart of the document. A statement also needs to be made on the document outlining that the document was witnessed in accordance with the new regulation.

In the ACT, the COVID-19 Emergency Response Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 (ACT) was passed on 7 May 2020, allowing the same to happen in the ACT.

If you are unsure whether you are able to use electronic witnessing for your particular document or would like assistance with it, please do not hesitate to contact our lawyers at M Legal.

As we enter a new phase of COVID-19, there are more uncertain times ahead for all of us.  From an immigration perspective, tighter measures are being enforced by Australia’s border security and we urge travelers in and out of the country, to consult with immigration experts if they have concerns or questions about their migration situation.

It is important we share the right information given that government policy is changing rapidly and is having a far-reaching impact on individual movement.

What we do know

  • There are travel bans for those who are arriving (and transiting) from Mainland China, Iran, South Korea, and Italy.  Australian citizens and permanent residents traveling from these countries are exempted from this ban.
  • If you are arriving in Australia from any other country, you are required to self-isolate for 14 days.  Heavy penalties will apply in some States if you do not abide by this guideline;
  • International cruise ships are banned from arriving in Australia for the next 30 days
  • If you are an on-shore tourist visa holder wishing to extend your stay, the Department has put into place some arrangements to grant extensions.  Please contact M Legal should you be considering to extend your stay.    

What we don’t know

  • As the government diverts resources to dealing with the COVID-19 migration matters, it is undetermined whether this will have a major impact on other visa categories processing timeframes
  • If there could be a response by the government to slow down the grant of all temporary visas for individuals applying off-shore
  • What other travel bans are on-foot and will be implemented soon

We highly recommend that you consult M Legal before making travel arrangements or apply for a visa for Australia.  We continue to stay abreast of the latest advice from both the Australian Department of Health and NSW Health as well as the Department of Home Affairs so that we can inform our clients accordingly.

On behalf of everyone in M Legal, we hope you and your family stay safe.

For Contracts of Sale entered into after 1 July 2019 (i.e. dated 1 July 2019 and after), new homeowners will pay no stamp duty if:

  • They are over the age of 18;
  • All buyers and their partners have not owned a property in the last 2 years;
  • At least one buyer will reside in the property being purchased for at least 12 months and the period of occupation commences within 12 months of settlement;
  • The total gross income of all buyers and their partners must not be greater than:
  • $160,000 (no dependent children)
  • $163,600 (1 dependent child)
  • $166,600 (2 dependent children)
  • $169,990 (3 dependent children)
  • $173,320 (4 dependent children)
  • $176,650 (5 or more dependent children)
  • All types of properties in the ACT are eligible for this stamp duty exemption if the above criteria is met.
  • The previous First Home Owners Grant is no longer available for transactions entered into from 1 July 2019. If your Contract for Sale is dated before 30 June 2019, please refer to the guideline found at:

https://www.revenue.act.gov.au/home-buyer-assistance/home-buyer-concession-scheme/transactions-entered-into-on-or-before-30-june-2019

In making the visa application process user-friendly, a false sense of security has emerged that it’s easy to apply for Australian visas.  There are certain instances when visas can be straightforward, but every individual’s case is different. With a lack of understanding the layer of laws and policy behind a visa application process, we have witnessed clients bewildered by negative visa outcomes of late.

Australian migration law stems from the Migration Act 1958 (Cth).  The online visa forms that individuals see are the simplified version of these laws.  At a glance, these forms are a series of straightforward questions. What is not told to applicants is that each question on the form is crafted to meet a point of law or government policy, determining your visa eligibility.  Therefore, there are serious ramifications for missing questions or not answering questions correctly.

A good migration lawyer can safeguard you from making these errors. Even if a client feels they have only received one good piece of advice in the process, this alone can save them the anguish of losing thousands in visa application fees (in most cases which are non-refundable).

Example

To give you an example on how questions can be multifaceted, here is a question that’s commonly asked in permanent residence applications:

“Non-migrating members of the family unit

Does the applicant have any members of their family unit not travelling to Australia who are not

Australian citizens or Australian permanent residents?”

Clients would usually answer ‘no’ to this question if they believe they’ve addressed this earlier by naming accompanying family members.  A good migration lawyer would tell you instead that this question is really asking if you have ‘dependant’ family members such as children or step-children remaining in your home country.  Why is this an important question? It’s because if you become a permanent resident, there’s a chance you may eventually bring these children to Australia. Therefore, their health conditions are just as important an issue to address for your application.  If any of these ‘unaccompanying’ children are found to have a serious condition, this compromises your whole permanent residency application, even if the rest of your accompanying family are healthy.

Migration Law is an expertise that’s built over time and an advisory service that keeps in mind how the relevant legislation applies to each client’s situation.  The online form and the Department of Home Affairs’ website is not sufficient to give the full picture. There is quite a great deal of analysis that goes into answering each question on the form and preparing a client’s application to ensure it meets the technical visa requirements.  Having a good migration expert to guide you can make a significant difference to your chances of securing an Australian visa.

Please contact M Legal’s immigration lawyer/agent should you wish to discuss your case further.