Think you have no options? Think again!
Refusals happen to quite a lot of visa applicants and it is good to know what you can do about it. If you have a visa refused you may be able to appeal the decision to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (the AAT). We have written this blog so that you can get a better idea of what the AAT is and what you can expect the process to be like if you choose to appeal the refusal of your visa.
What is the AAT?
The AAT is an independent organisation that will review decisions made by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (the DIBP). The Tribunal will look at the case “de novo” which means it will put itself in the shoes of the original decision maker and consider all the evidence from a fresh perspective. Therefore, your application is viewed as a new application.
What is the process of applying to the AAT?
You will have a limited amount of time to make an appeal, this period depends on whether or not you made your visa application onshore or offshore. For decisions made onshore you will have 28 days to seek a review, for offshore (overseas) you will have a total of 91 days.
However this period of time depends on the mode of communication, if you are informed by email and are onshore you will get 21 days to respond, if you are offshore then you will get 70 days.
After you have lodged an application to the AAT, the AAT will eventually appoint a “Registrar” to your case to carry out what’s called a Merits Review.
It can take between 12 to 18 months
for them to appoint a Registrar! So you must be prepared to wait a while.
Eventually the Tribunal will ask for submissions from both you and the Department of Immigration on why the visa should be granted or refused. After receiving these submissions, the tribunal will decide whether to have a hearing. If it is satisfied with the submissions and evidence provided, then it will decide the case on the paper. If the registrar is not satisfied with the submissions given, then they will want a hearing to assess your claim more closely.
What will happen to my visa status?
If you have already been holding a Bridging Visa associated with the visa that has been refused, your bridging visa will continue until a decision is made on the appeal. This is because your visa application has not yet been finally determined.
Do I need to get an Agent or a lawyer to represent me at the AAT?
You do not have to get an agent or a lawyer, and you can represent yourself, in fact anybody can represent you at the AAT. But we highly advise that you do get someone with a legal background in migration law.
An appeal to the AAT can be quite complicated and requires a lot of planning and care. The Immigration Department will usually have a lawyer representing their case who will delve deep into the law of the case and try to make it as difficult as possible for you.
So it would be a good idea to get help from a migration firm such as West Aussie Migration so that the Immigration Department doesn’t get an unfair advantage over you.