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April 23, 2020

How to not get deported: A guide for the city migrant worker and their employer

Meet Trish Jarvis, the migration lawyer who's going to give you free advice on how not to get unceremoniously stripped of your visa during COVID-19.

  • Words and pictures: Josh Fanning

“If you’re on a migrant working visa and you’ve lost your job, you’ll be asked to leave the country,” says lawyer Trish Jarvis.

The stark reality of her statement is at odds with the bright, pastel hues and playful artwork on the walls of her Goodwood Road office.


Jarvis Migration and Law is offering free consults to employers and employees during COVID-19 and is offering help and advice on how to remain on the right side of migration law.
Get in touch for a free consult.

But such is the importance of this message that it is one of the first things Trish says to us after CityMag arrives to interview her about offering her services for free during COVID-19.

Trish saw our article on Rashad Cassim last week and reached out to let us know Rashad is one of the lucky ones with a visa intact and a supportive employer.

“I had, yesterday, 12 phone calls from different people going, ‘So I got let go on the 23rd of March – is my visa on pause?'” Trish says.

“Just because the world’s gone inside, doesn’t mean your visa is on pause. Now you’ve only got 30 days instead of 60.”

Trish Jarvis

The way Australia’s migrant working visa system works is, well, based on work. The condition of the 482 ‘skilled work’ visa is that you’re here only because  you’re employed, and if you lose your job, you have 60 days to find another one or leave the country.

“We do a lot of employer-sponsored visas. We act for a lot of employers who can’t find that skillset, and as soon as [COVID-19] happened we identified ‘you’re going to have a problem and we don’t think the government is going to help you’,” says Trish recounting the general conversation she initiated with her clients last month.

A lawyer for the past 18 years, Trish spent the early stages of her career working on refugee cases and so she understands full well how little room there is in Australian migration law for the concept of compassion.

“After six or seven years of that, it was really overwhelming and I needed to see what positive migration work looked like, because that [refugee work] was just not positive,” says Trish of the experience representing asylum seekers.

And while her own business should be booming – at a time when there is a real need in the migrant labour market for expert legal advice – Trish is instead working pro bono to help migrant workers and their employees find a way to stay in Australia.

“Whilst our work has slowed down incredibly – we’ve stepped down one of our employees – we still needed to accept we are in such a better position than the majority of these migrants.

“They’re away from their families, they’ve paid taxes and they’ve started to build a life for themselves here, and all of a sudden they’re on their own. That’s why we’re doing this – we have to help,” says Trish.

And while Trish is adamant that migrants will be asked to leave if they cannot find work, she says she’s been able to help employers and employees find different ways of structuring the situation on paper so the government can be satisfied.

“If your visa is running out, you need a new one,” says Trish. “There are no extensions because we’re in the middle of a pandemic. You’re on a clock that’s ticking.”

Not a scary lawyer-type, Trish Jarvis has an open and welcoming practice on Goodwood Road – complete with sausage dog

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