On the 27th April, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal has publically released its new processing priorities during the COVID-19 pandemic. These priorities will outline the order in how applications to the AAT Migration Division will be assessed. They were released in a COVID-19 Special Measures Practice Direction – Migration and Refugee Division released on the 27th April 2020.

Priorities for processing cases 

The following cases are to be given the highest priority:

(a) cases involving persons in immigration detention;

(b) cases where there is a question as to whether or not the AAT has jurisdiction to conduct a review;

(c) cases where we determine there are compelling reasons for prioritising the case and, if a hearing is required, the Tribunal determines that it can be conducted by telephone and/or video; Note: See the Prioritising Cases in the Migration and Refugee Division President’s Direction for more information about what constitutes compelling reasons.

(d) visa cancellation cases where, if a hearing is required, the Tribunal determines that it can be conducted by telephone and/or video:

(e) cases that can be decided without inviting the applicant to appear before the Tribunal at a hearing, including where: (i) the Tribunal considers that it should decide the review in the applicant’s favour on the basis of the material before it; (ii) the applicant consents to the Tribunal deciding the review without the applicant appearing before it; or (iii) the applicant was invited to give information or to comment on or respond to information under section 359, 359A, 424 or 424A of the Migration Act 1958 (Migration Act) and did not give the information, the comments or the response before the time for giving them had passed.

Priority for all other cases will be determined by the Division Head of the Migration and Refugee Division.

Regarding asking the AAT to postpone your hearing the following guidelines have been released;

Adjournments (postponements)

The Tribunal will not postpone a scheduled hearing unless there are good reasons to justify the postponement. Note: The unavailability of a representative may not be, of itself, a sufficient reason to grant a postponement. Requests for a postponement, including requests based on reasons related to COVID-19, will be considered on a case by case basis.

If you want to ask us to postpone your scheduled hearing, you must make the request as soon as you become aware that you need a postponement. Your request must: (a) be in writing and include your AAT case number; (b) explain why you need a postponement; and (c) be accompanied by any supporting evidence.

If you need a postponement for medical reasons, including medical reasons related to COVID-19, you must give us evidence from a medical practitioner that sets out: (a) when you had your appointment with the medical practitioner; (b) why you are not fit to give oral evidence at the scheduled hearing; and (c) when the medical practitioner thinks you will be fit to give oral evidence at a hearing. A medical certificate merely stating ‘medical condition’ will not generally be sufficient.

 If the Tribunal agrees to the postponement, you will be advised of the postponement in writing. If you have not been notified that your hearing has been postponed, then you must appear at the hearing at the scheduled time.

Remember one of the most important components of an AAT hearing is being prepared in the manner of how the hearing will take place, documentary evidence to support your application and preparedness of your oral evidence. In our previous article, we have outlined the critical importance of practising to give your oral evidence.

Read: Witness Preparation For An AAT Hearing

We can help if full representation to the AAT or perhaps you just want to practice for the hearing. We are here to help. Call +61 2 8054 2537 or book online today to speak to our migration specialists. Currently, we only offer Skype or telephone appointments. Witness preparation can be at home via Skype and usually involves two 2 hour sessions.