Australian Law News

High Court decision finds indefinite detention is unlawful

In a historic decision, the High Court recently published its unanimous ruling on indefinite immigration detention. The decision was unanimous, by seven high court judges. The case is NZYQ v Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs [2023] HCA 37 (28 November 2023).

The High Court ruled that it is unlawful to detain a person indefinitely, in circumstances where there are no real prospects of removing them from Australia. The case involved a stateless individual to whom Australia owed protection, being not a citizen of any country, and with no available country willing to resettle him.

The court examined sections 189(1) and 196(1) of the Migration Act, finding that they exceeded the Commonwealth's power.

The High Court emphasized that the Executive lacks the authority to impose criminal punishment, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Australian courts. Consequently, the court deemed indefinite detention as a form of punishment beyond the government's constitutional power, making it unlawful.

What are the facts of this case? 

The applicant is a Rohyingya Muslim who arrived in Australia by boat in 2012 and was granted a bridging visa in 2014. Later found guilty of a sexual offense against a child, he was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment. 

During this time, he applied for a Protection visa, and it was found that he is a person Australia owes protection obligations because he has a well-founded fear of persecution. Ultimately the protection visa wasn't granted because of his criminal conviction.  

Decision high court

After being released on parole in 2018, he was taken into immigration detention. In April 2023, he appealed to the High Court arguing his continuing detention was not authorised. 

On 30 May 2023, both parties in this case agreed to 2 very important facts:  

1.  The applicant cannot be removed from Australia.

2.  There is no real prospect of the applicant being removed from Australia in the reasonably foreseeable future.  

The High Court decided that the applicant's detention has been unlawful since 30 May 2023, and ordered his release. 

The applicant is a stateless person, to whom Australia owes protection. He is not a citizen of any country, and no country will resettle him. 

Why is it unlawful? 

According to the Australian Constitution, an unlawful non-citizen can only be kept in immigration detention for a legitimate, non-punitive purpose.  

Indefinitely detaining those who cannot be legally removed from Australia, was said to be punitive (i.e. punishment) rather than for a legitimate purpose.  

The Executive (government departments and ministers) do not have the power to impose criminal punishment. Instead that power rests with the Australian courts. 

The High Court decided that indefinite detention is a form of punishment that goes beyond the government's power and is therefore unlawful.  

What now? 

The Federal Government reacted very quickly in response to this significant decision. Immigration Minister Andrew Giles quickly introduced a Bill, which passed, which imposes strict conditions on Bridging visas granted to those who have been released.  This includes requiring them to always wear a monitoring device, follow a curfew, and report regularly.

As the Federal Government moves to enforce these new laws, legal challenges are anticipated. The High Court is expected to consider and assess the constitutionality of these laws, setting the stage for potential updates and developments in the near future.NZYQ v Minister for Immigration Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs 2023 HCA 37 28 November 2023 1 1


How can Work Visa Lawyers help?

Our team of experienced Immigration Lawyers and Migration Agents look forward to assisting you with your potential visa application(s).

Based in Adelaide, South Australia, we provide Australian Immigration advice to people and businesses from all over the world.

You can book an appointment online or call us at (+61) 8 8351 9956.

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Three Ways to Obtain Australian Citizenship by Birth

Australian citizenship can be acquired through various circumstances related to birth. In this blog, we'll explore the three types of citizenship by birth.

Child Born in Australia with at Least One Parent Holding Australian Citizenship

If a child is born in Australia with at least one parent holding Australian citizenship, the child automatically becomes an Australian citizen.

Parents with child

Child Born Outside Australia with at Least One Parent Holding Australian Citizenship

Children born outside Australia with at least one parent holding Australian citizenship them they can apply for Australian citizenship through their parents.

Child Born in Australia – Ordinarily Resident and the 10-Year Rule

If a child is born in Australia and has two parents with neither of whom are Australian Citizens or Permanent Residents, and the child has been ordinarily resident in Australia throughout the first 10 years from your birth Australia as its primary residence up until the age of 10, the Child automatically becomes an Australian Citizen.

10 years child 1 1

Recent case and flexibility by the Australian government

Recent legal developments, such as the case of Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs v Sidhu by his litigation representative Kaur [2023] FCAFC 133, have brought about flexibility by the Full Federal court in interpreting the term "ordinarily resident."

This broader interpretation of ordinarily resident was more generous on how much time the child could be outside of Australia and still get Australian citizenship. In Sidhu, the child’s parents lived and worked in Australia while the child for some years lived with the grandparents in India. The child was still able to become an Australian Citizen on its 10th birthday.

Understanding the pathways to Australian citizenship by birth is crucial for individuals and families. Recent legal developments highlight the importance of flexibility in interpreting residency requirements, providing opportunities for those whose circumstances involve periods of living outside. If you need any assistance, please book an appointment. We are happy to help you.

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Work Visa Lawyers has been named as a finalist in the Australian Law Awards for Boutique Law Firm of the Year and Chris Johnston is recognised as a finalist in that Mentor of the Year category


We take a break from providing you with the latest immigration laws and visa news as we have some very exciting news about us.

We are very excited and incredibly humbled to have been selected as a finalist in the Boutique Law Firm of the Year Award category of the Australian Law Awards 2023 and that our founder and Principal Lawyer, Chris Johnston has been recognised as a finalist in the Mentor of the Year award.


White Modern Minimalist Photo Collage Untitled design

Boutique Law Firm of the Year

As a boutique law firm based in little old Adelaide, in South Australia and to be shortlisted as a finalist in 2 categories for a national award such as this is a remarkable achievement. The Australian Law Awards is highly regarded across Australia’s legal sector, so we are extremely proud of this recognition.

While it is tempting to think that we are punching above our weight, we remind ourselves that we are the biggest immigration law firm in South Australia. We do believe that specialising in immigration law allows us to provide specialist expertise to our clients to match national big firms while keeping our boutique small practice attitude and offer a personalised approach to our clients and their matters.

For us being named as a finalist is a recognition of our hard work and our commitment to providing ethical, professional and excellent service to our clients.


Mentor of the YearA lot of people know about Australian migration law or about Australian visas by watching Chris in our videos on YouTube and recently in TikTok or by accessing our websites for our articles. But in addition to Chris sharing his knowledge and experience through YouTube or our website, Chris is also sharing his knowledge and time and guiding law graduates and Registered Migration Agents as a mentor.

It is Chris’ belief that mentoring the new professionals is a way to contribute to the advancement of the profession.

Chris was able to establish and grow Work Visa Lawyers by having the invaluable guidance of his mentors and sees the importance of mentoring not just to help up and coming law professionals but also for him to grow and to learn from his peers and develop as a legal professional.

Chris was mentored by some great people including Lawyer Joanna Richardson and RMA Brian Jones.

We take this opportunity to thank all our clients, for their trust and for referring us on to their family, friends and contacts and for engaging with us through our various social media platforms.

Awards night will be on  11 August 2023 in Sydney and whether we win or not, we are celebrating nevertheless and giving ourselves a pat on the back.

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How can those with Student Visas and Tourist Visas Meet the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) Requirements & Avoid A GTE Visa Refusal Notice?

How can those with Student Visas and Tourist Visas Meet the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) Requirements & Avoid A GTE Visa Refusal Notice?

The Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) is a requirement almost all migrants will have to pass in the process of immigrating to Australia. Failing the GTE requirement can result in a devastating visa refusal. Here is what you need to know about the GTE criteria so you don’t receive a visa refusal notification.


  1. What Is The GTE?
  2. How To Meet The GTE Criterion?
    1. What Factors Do The DoHA Look At? 
    2. Your Immigration History? 
    3. If You Are A Student
    4. Supporting Your Claims
  3. Does Every Visa Have The GTE Criterion? 

What Is The GTE?

GTE is short for Genuine Temporary Entrant. Based on the documents provided by the applicant, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) will determine whether the applicant has a true purpose of temporary stay and the intention to stay in Australia for the time being. 

The key to meeting the Genuine Temporary Entrant requirement, is being able to demonstrate a range of strong incentives to leave Australia at the end of the temporary visa. 

The DHA will consider the applicant's background in their home country, the immigration history, the incentive to stay in Australia or return home. If you do receive a GTE visa refusal you may have the option to appeal and review the decision.

How to Meet GTE Criterion?

What Factors Do the DoHA Look At?

DoHA looks at factors which might make you wish to not return to your home country:

  • Political or civil unrest
  • Military service commitments
  • Your financial circumstances in your home country

The DoHA will also look at factors which would encourage you to return home such as, if you have a job back home, and have approved study leave. Another example would be if you have a business or personal assets in your home country, or close family members this may also be considered.

Your Immigration History

DoHA checks your immigration history as well:

  • If you have spent a long time in Australia, DoHA may consider that you are seeking to extend your stay in Australia and work here.
  • If you have had previous visa refusals/cancellations
  • Any previous issues with visa compliance - for example not completing studies on previous student visas, working in excess of work conditions, overstaying your visa

If You Are A Student

Some visas may require more information, take Student visa subclass 500 for example. You will have to provide all the mandatory information but you may also need to explain how the proposed course will assist you in your future career.

If you are requested to provide how the course will assist you, it would be very helpful to:

  • Relate the new course to what you have previously studied
  • Relate the new course to what you are currently doing in your work
  • Relate the new course to your career plan

In your explanation, try to answer the following questions:

  • Why you chose Australia to study instead of in your home country?
  • Why did you choose the courses?
  • What is the value of your course to your future?
  • What is your plan after graduation?

One of the more important categories DoHA will question you about is the value of the course to your future. DoHA will consider:

  • if the course is consistent with your current level of education
  • if the course is relevant to past or proposed future employment in your home country or a third country
  • expected salary and other benefits in your home country or a third country with your qualifications from the proposed course

When drafting your GTE statements, it is important that you pay very close attention to all the requirements if you fall under one or more of these categories:

  • Student visa applicants over 30 years old
  • Applicants who have not completed their studies and need to transfer to another school
  • Applicants who have applied for a degree lower than their highest academic level
  • People who have applied for a student visa in Australia many times
  • Applicants who are not related to the previous education situation

Supporting Your Claims

Evidence documents to support the facts you listed in your statement should be provided at the time of application as well.

For example, if the applicant mentions that his future goal is to return home and open a restaurant, he can explain it in his GTE and prepare a corresponding business plan for opening a restaurant. However, if an applicant only said in his GTE statement, “I applied because I like it very much.” Such claim is not convincing and will not meet the GTE requirements.

Below is a real example of a refusal that a client received before consulting with Work Visa Lawyers.

ATT Refusal Example

Please note that it is common for a case officer to call you and ask you questions about your reasons for study in Australia. You may not receive any notice of this, so it is very important that you are prepared to discuss your case.

 Does Every Visa Have the GTE Criterion?

In short, no, but the majority of visas do use GTE requirements. The GTE is important because it applies to all Visitor Visas and some of the Temporary Visas. To put this in perspective, the Australian Bureau of Statistics recorded 780,500 Visitor visa movements in September 2018. Keeping the same amount of movements per month, in a year there would be 9,366,000 Visitor Visa movements. This means that nearly 10 million people would have had to pass the GTE requirements.

Some of the most common Temporary Visas that have the GTE criterion are:

It is important to remember that the GTE is often not the only criteria you will have to meet. For example, the Short-term stream subclass 482 which replaced the popular subclass 457 recently, has many requirements including IELTS and other skills assessments.

It is also important to show a range of documents to demonstrate an incentive to return home.
These could include:
- Employment to return to in home country.
- Close family ties and responsibilities in the home country - for example, if you are married and your partner is staying in home country during the visit, this is a positive GTE factor.
- Ownership of property or businesses in home country

Do you need help with an Australian visa application?

Lawyers and Registered Migration Agents from Work Visa Lawyers have rich experience in drafting GTE statements. If you need any assistance, please feel free to contact our team.

At Work Visa Lawyers we are experienced in assisting applicants in all matters relating to Australian visa applications, including state sponsorship applications. Our areas of expertise include Skilled Migration visas, Business Skills Migration visas, Employer Sponsored Work Visas, Partner and other Family Migration visas as well as Migration Review Tribunal, Judicial Review and Ministerial Intervention.

If you require further information regarding your Australia visa options you can contact us through:

(08) 8351 9956

or   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sources[email protected]/mf/3401.0/

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Can I Appeal if My Australian Visa is Refused or Cancelled for Character Reasons?

Can I Appeal if My Australian Visa is Refused or Cancelled for Character Reasons?

Picture this: you've been living in Australia for the last 10 years with your wife and child. You had a criminal history in your home country, but you moved away to get a fresh start and put that life behind you. You're here on a genuine visa and you're earning your keep by legitimate means. But then you get a notification from the Department of Home Affairs saying your visa has been cancelled due to "character grounds", and you have 9 days to lodge an appeal or you must leave the country. What are you going to do?!

Section 501 of the Migration Act 1958 gives the Minister for Home Affairs, or their delegate, the right to refuse or cancel a visa if they are satisfied that the visa holder does not pass the "character test". In addition, Subsection 501(3A) imposes an obligation on the Minister to cancel a visa if an applicant/visa holder fails the character test for specific reasons- which means if you tick the right boxes, the Minister must cancel your visa.

These laws have only recently been put into place but they apply retrospectively. This means that even though the law didn't exist when you moved to Australia and got your visa, it applies to you now. And that's how people find themselves in very difficult situations like in the example above.


What is the Character Test?

The character test is set out in Subsection 501(6) of the Migration Act and it lists a number of reasons for which a visa can or should be cancelled. The list is long, but it includes:

  • having a substantial cirminal record
  • having committed sexually based offences against a child;
  • having committed offences while in or escaping from immigration detention;
  • being involved in people smuggling or slavery; or
  • being part of a criminal organisation (such as the mafia).

In our experience, the most common reason for cancellation of refusal is though incurring a "substantial criminal record".


Substantial Criminal Record

The Migration Act says a person has a "substantial criminal record" if they have been (and this is not an exchaustive list):

  • sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 12 months or more;
  • sentenced to death; or
  • found unfit to stand trial, and has been retained in a facility or institution.


What Can You Do About a Visa Refusal or Cancellation for Character Reasons?

Refusal or cancellation decisions are appealable to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. The tribunal is required to make a decision on the appeal within 84 days of the applicant being notified of the refusal/cancellation.

Just as with the Minister, the tribunal is required to weigh up the facts that arise in the matter with respect to Ministerial Direction 90, as follows:

Primary considerations:

  • Protection of the Australian community from criminal or other serious conduct;
  • Whether the conduct engaged in constituted family violence;
  • The best interests of minor children in Australia;
  • Expectations of the Australian community.

Other considerations:

  • International non-refoulement obligations (not sending you back to a country where you will be persecuted);
  • Extent of impediments if removed (how badly you would be affected by it if you are sent home);
  • Impact on victims; and
  • Links to the Australian community, including:
    1. Strength, nature and duration of ties to Australia (such as family, friends and community); or
    2. Impact on Australian business interests.

As you can see, Ministerial Direction 90 provides ample opportunity for a lawyer to develop an appeal argument. The tribunal’s decision ultimately turns on the weight it assigns to each consideration and whether it feels the positives outweigh the negative aspects of an applicant’s situation.

In our experience it is important to recognise an appeal’s strengths and weaknesses and focus submissions accordingly. For example, if an applicant has an extensive criminal record there is no value in trying to argue that they don’t. Instead, it is important to acknowledge it and provide an explanation and context for that offending as well as emphasising the positive aspects of their situation – such as family, cultural, or business ties to Australia. The discretion granted to the tribunal offers applicants the opportunity to put their best foot forward.  



Appeals of Section 501 refusals and cancellations are time sensitive processes, given that the tribunal is required to hand down a decision within 84 days. As such, it is important to be organised, focused, and strategic in where to focus your energy. Do not waste time!

If you do find yourself facing a section 501 refusal or cancellation you need to speak to an experienced immigration lawyer immediately to understand your options. Work Visa Lawyers is happy to discuss your options further, provide an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your case, and give you an indication of whether we consider there to be sufficient grounds to lodge an appeal.

Make an appointment now if you need help on a visa refusal/cancellation appeal.



Lochlan Reef MacNicol: Lawyer

Lochlan Reef MacNicol, Lawyer & Registered Migration Agent at Work Visa Lawyers


Do you need help?


Our team of experienced Immigration Lawyers and Migration Agents look forward to assisting you with your Australian visa or appeal.

Based in Adelaide South Australia, we provide Australian Immigration advice to people and businesses from all over the world.

If you require further information regarding your Australia visa options you can contact us through:

(08) 8351 9956 or +61 8 8351 9956 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

You can also subscribe our Facebook: WORK VISA lawyers



This information is correct at the time of publication but is subject to change without notice.  All information provided on this page is provided for purely educational purposes and does not constitute legal advice.  For advice on your situation, please speak with an Immigration Lawyer or a Registered Migration Agent.

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