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5 reasons why should you take your visa refusal to the AAT

Having your visa refused on the first occasion by the Department is not necessarily the end of your immigration journey in Australia. There can be other options such as lodging another application (you will need to get legal advice to check if you can or not) and you may also be able to review that decision at the AAT.

There are many reasons why we recommend going to the AAT if the Department refused your visa application:

  1. A Second chance:

The Department’s decision refusing your case may have been a wrong decision. The AAT gives you the right to fight your case- I.e. like a second chance. The AAT is a government body with a higher power to review decisions made by the Department and to change/overturn that decision. The AAT is independent from the department and they must reach their own conclusion on your case with a fresh look at all the facts. They will have regard to the department’s decision and may ask you questions about it.  They will look at “the merits of the case”, all the facts, laws and policies before arriving to their own decision. Also generally the decision makers are more educated and experienced.

  1. Extend your stay in Australia during the review process:

Going to the AAT may allow you (in most cases) to remain in Australia if you are already in Australia on a bridging visa linked to the refused decision.

  1. Time to strengthen your case/meet the criteria for the visa

The AAT may take many months (and even years) before your file is allocated to a tribunal member who will make a decision on your case. During that time you can

  1. strengthen your case by showing you would have complied with the visa if it was granted.
  2. Collect more documents to support your case to show the Tribunal why you should be granted the visa. Some criteria need to be met at the time of decision rather than the time of application (for example minimum English results for temporary work visas).
  1. Chance to a hearing

 You will get a chance to have a hearing to represent your case better at the tribunal, a chance you may not have had at the department. You can also take a lawyer or a migration agent with you to the hearing and they can also help you with written submissions before and after the hearing.

 Find other solutions.

During the time the AAT is pending you can seek legal advice to help you find other solutions/visa options.

Important Tips

  • It is best to speak to an immigration lawyer as soon as your visa is refused before taking your case to the tribunal.
  • There are strict timeframes to take your case on review to the Tribunal. Take immediate action as soon as you receive a negative decision.
  • You can hire a lawyer/a migration agent at any stage of your AAT case.
  • You will need to check your visa status and ensure that your ongoing residence in Australia.


Written by Marial Lewis

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