Administrative Appeals Tribunal

Have your visa been refused or cancelled?

A visa may be refused or cancelled due to various reasons and it can be a very upsetting and distressing time.

Once a visa is refused or cancelled, the Department of Home Affairs cannot consider your visa application anymore. However, you are entitled to apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) for merits review of the decision.

At Ascent Lawyers, we can help you get back on track by lodging an appeal to the AAT.

What is AAT?

AAT is also known as the “Administrative Appeals Tribunal”. AAT gives you another chance to present your case. The tribunal member will review all of the relevant facts and evidence of your application and make their own decision.

Do I have review rights? What is the time limit?

If you are onshore

You have review rights and must lodge your AAT application within 21 calendar days after the day you are taken to have received the visa refusal or cancellation decision.

If you have a sponsor for your visa application

Your sponsor is entitled to apply for a merits review of the decision to the AAT. The AAT application must be lodged within 70 calendar days after the day you are taken to have received the visa refusal or cancellation decision.

What are the possible outcomes?

The AAT can make one of the following decisions:

  1. Affirm the decision, meaning they agree with the Department of Home Affairs’ decision to refuse your visa
  2. Remit the decision back to the Department of Home Affairs for reconsideration
  3. Vary or set aside and substitute a new decision

What is the appeal process?

The process is as follows:

1. Lodge your AAT application within timeframe (generally 21 days)

For onshore applications, the applicant will be granted an extension of Bridging Visa while waiting for the result from AAT. This allows the applicant to legally stay in Australia.

Once your application is lodged, it will be assigned to an AAT member. During this period of time, you may be asked to provide further information or comment on a particular issue.

2. Receive an invitation to attend AAT hearing

At this point, you should prepare an up to date copy of all supporting documents. If you are represented by an immigration lawyer, they will complete the legal submission for you.

This legal submission is an important document in your application as it gives you the chance to specify the reason(s) why your application should not be refused, point out your personal circumstances and indicates how you have fulfilled the criteria in your visa application.

3. Attend the hearing

This is your chance to present your case in person. The member will ask you questions or any other witnesses.

The member may make a decision on the day or some time after the hearing.

What is the processing time for AAT?

The time it takes for AAT to complete the review process depends on various factors, including:

  • The number of applications for review AAT received
  • The numbers of AAT members available to conduct reviews
  • The type of decision under review
  • The complexity of the review

For more information about specific timelines, please visit the AAT official website.

What would happen in the AAT hearing?

In Ascent Lawyers, we have experienced immigration lawyers who can assist you in AAT application. Prior to the hearing, we will arrange a meeting with you to explain the process of hearing and answer any of your queries.

Please note the following points:

  • Generally, it is expected that you attend the AAT hearing in person. If any circumstances prevent you from attending the hearing, you may attend the hearing by phone or video call.
  • Apart from yourself, the AAT member and an AAT staff member will appear in the hearing. If you wish to attend with your lawyer, supporting person or witness, you are required to inform the AAT prior to the hearing.
  • You can apply to have an interpreter. The AAT hearing is open to the public, this means that anyone who wishes to attend will be allowed.
  • The hearing usually takes 1 – 4 hours depending on the complexity of your application, the number of issues to be dealt with in your application and the number of witness present in your case.

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