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S56 request for information how to respond

Managing Associate (Lawyer)
March 14, 2024
minute read

Everything you need to know about a s56 Request for information

Have you received a request for more information for the Department of Home Affairs? These requests are most commonly sent in the form of a S56 Request for Information (RFI) letter. This is not necessarily a cause for concern, yet it should be treated seriously and responded to diligently. Maintaining timely communication with the Department is important. Not only does it improve the quality of your application but it may expedite the processing time on your application. On the other hand, if you fail to respond to a RFI, there may be adverse consequences for your application. 

It can be difficult to be certain of exactly what information the Department is requesting.

Whilst it is helpful to supply them with a comprehensive array of documents, providing excessive information can delay the process. Our team at Australian Migration Lawyers is highly skilled in understanding what is requested and responding to the RFI in a timely and comprehensive manner. Engaging Australian Migration Lawyers means that the RFI process is stress free and handled efficiently.

What is a s56 Request for more information?

A s56 Request for Information is a request made under section 56 of the Migration Act. Firstly, this section empowers the Minister and his delegates to request information. Secondly, where information is requested, the section states that the ‘Minister may invite, orally or in writing, the applicant for a visa to give additional information in a specified way’. 

Most of the time, the request is a simple and straightforward request where the Department is asking the applicant for an important piece of information that was missing from the initial application. This may be to clarify issues relating to inconsistent travel dates, incorrect spelling of names, or requiring additional documents such as English results or police checks. You are required to respond to the request within a specified period of time, typically 28 days (unless otherwise specified).

The following is an example of the type of letter you may receive:

Above document: S56 Request for Information example

Following the letter setting out the request for information, you will also be provided with a request checklist that provides details of exactly what documents are required. For example, the RFI sent below is requesting that the applicant complete their biometric assessment:

Above document: Request checklist

It is important to read the requested information carefully and note down any supporting documents required. The success of your visa application may depend on your ability to supply the supporting documents to your case officer within the set timeframes. Submitting the required information may require professional advice to ensure you comply with the strict rules and proceed to attain a desirable outcome on your application. 

How long does a s56 request take to finalised?

After you have received your S56 request for information you will typically have 28 days to respond. Once you have provided your response to the Department, there is unfortunately no set time period in which they are expected to reach a conclusion on your application. Factors such as the complexity of your case and current workload may influence processing times. Generally, receiving a S56 request can be a positive indicator that the Department is in the later stage of assessing your application. 

Ensuring that you identify and review the instructions properly is crucial to ensuring that the information provided meets the criteria of the requested evidence. Providing your case officer with all the information and documents required within the set time frames will decrease the processing time and increase your chances of attaining a favourable outcome. 

How to respond to a s56 request for further information

Before considering how to respond, it is important to read the request and the checklist carefully. Misunderstanding what information is required can mean that you submit incorrect information and delay your application further. Sometimes the requests can be simple and easy to understand, yet sometimes they can be complex and require a large quantity of information to be gathered. Engaging an Australian Migration Lawyer at this point in time will supply you with confidence and peace of mind that your response is comprehensive and appropriate. 

Once you are aware of what the request requires of you, your response can be submitted directly through your ImmiAccount. You will only get one chance to respond to the request, therefore it is important to ensure your response is comprehensive yet does not overwhelm the case officer with information. Our team of Australian Migration Lawyers is well-equipped and experienced at responding to these requests. We can assist you in preparing your documents and ensuring that they comply with the  request checklist. Finally, we will submit the response on your behalf, relieving you of the pressure of doing so yourself. 

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What visa will you get after responding to s56 request?

An s56 request is a request for you to provide further information on the visa application that you have already submitted. Therefore, if your response to the request is satisfactory, the visa you may be granted is the same visa that you had originally applied for. The Department retains ultimate discretion over whether to grant your application. They may request further information again in the future, or exercise their discretion to reject your application at any time. 

How can Australian Migration Lawyers help you with a s56?

Many applicants miss the notification in their email or ImmiAccount and do not realise that the request has been issued. This can be avoided by engaging Australian Migration Lawyers, who will receive the notification on your behalf and will instruct you immediately regarding the next steps. 

Secondly, understanding the s56 request can be challenging. The checklist can be long and contain various different requirements. The language used may be confusing and the details of what the case officer requires may be difficult to decipher. This can be especially difficult if English is not your native language. Our Australian Migration Lawyers have received, understood and responded to many s56 requests in the past, and are well placed to assist you in helping to understand your own. 

Thirdly, preparing and submitting the requested information within the set time frame can be burdensome. Failing to do so may result in your application being rejected. In the event that you require additional time, our Australian Migration Lawyers are experienced at submitting time extension requests based on your personal circumstances. It can be helpful to have an experienced Australian Migration Lawyer proofread all of your submissions to ensure that they are accurate and satisfy the requirements of the forms requested by the Department. Whilst it may be easy to understand the requirements of submitting your passport details, it can be more difficult to know what is required to further ‘prove your relationship’ for a partner visa. This is where an Australian Migration Lawyer is vital in understanding exactly what is expected of you. 

Finally, in the event that your submission is unsuccessful and your visa is rejected, our team of Australian Migration Lawyers is here to help you appeal the decision to Australia’s Administrative Appeals Tribunal, or to the Federal Court. 


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