Have you received a refusal on your visa application? Not all hope is yours. Read through your letter from the Department of Home Affairs (DOHA) and look for this:

“Review rights: No further assessment of this application can be taken at this office. However, you are entitled to apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) for a merits review of this decision within 21 days after the day on which you are taken to have received this letter.”

A merits review is an appeal and you will need to, if you so wish to, make an appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).


Applying for a review

You will need to apply for a merits review within the specified time as given on your refusal letter. Alternatively, review application forms can be lodged by email, fax, post or by hand at any registry of the AAT. If you choose to post your application, do remember that you will need to make an allowance for additional time for your application to be received by the AAT and it must still happen within your time limit.

On application, you will receive an acknowledgement letter and the AAT will request files and documents relating to the decision under review from the DOHA. Every case varies but here are some necessary essential materials that you should be providing in your application:

  • Refusal of visa notification letter
  • Statement on why the refusal is not justified
  • Supporting evidence

Your refusal notice will have provided an explanation on why your visa was refused. Use this information as a guide as to what supporting evidence you will be able to provide to support your case.

There is an application fee of $1764. The fee may be reduced by 50% if the AAT is satisfied that the payment of the fee is likely to cause severe financial hardship to the review applicant. Evidence must of course be provided for this:

  • Bank and credit card account statements displaying current balances and transactions over the past month for all personal and joint account
  • Current payslip or payment statements from Centrelink as well as any evidence of investment income
  • Other documents that demonstrate payment of the fee has caused you, or is likely to cause you, severe financial hardship, such as:
    • Evidence of rent/board or mortgage payments, utility, medical or other bills
    • Evidence of receipt of any financial benefits (such as a Centrelink payment, child support payment, workers compensation, or as a holder of a Commonwealth health care card, pensioner concession card or seniors health card)
    • Evidence that another agency or organisation has, in respect to you, , waived, reduced or not imposed a fee (such as legal aid or pro bono migration assistance)


What next

Over the course of your review, the AAT will likely seek further information from you and invite you to comment on any information that may be important to the visa refusal decision.

If the AAT invites you to give written information or respond to information, the AAT will also specify how the information or response should be given, mostly importantly, the time frame in which you are to provide this information. Please do not disregard this. If no prescribed period is given, in a ‘reasonable period’. Unfortunately there is no definition for this, but the sooner the better, unless there are extenuating circumstances.

The AAT may also request that you give information or respond to information via an interview. They will provide you with details as to where the interview will take place as well as a time or time frame. If there is truly difficulty for the review applicant to attend the interview, the AAT may provide an extension and the response is to be made within that extended period.

If the applicant fails to provide a response within the prescribed period as given by the AAT, the AAT may make a decision without taking any further action to obtain information. Do be careful to make your best efforts to be sure you receive communication from the AAT.

We recently witness an unfortunate situation where a Migration agent did not respond to the AAT request so the AAT just refused the applicant’s review application without allowing the applicant a hearing. The applicant was very upset that his Migration Agent had not responded to the AAT and had to requested for more time from the AAT for submitting further documents.

The AAT will finalise your case with:

  • An affirmation of the DIBP decision, or
  • A new decision, or
  • Require the DOHA to reconsider, or
  • Decide that the AAT has no jurisdiction to review the decision

Further information about the merits review process is available from the AAT on the Tribunal website at www.aat.gov.au.

Visa refusals are difficult. Ensure that you have the best chances with your merits review. Book a consultation to speak one of our highly experienced migration specialists. Call +61 2 8054 2537, 0434 890 199 or book online.