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The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT)

Understand the process of an AAT Appeal

If your visa application has been refused or you’ve experienced a visa cancellation, you may wish to take your case to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to appeal the decision. This process can be daunting without the assistance of immigration lawyers. At Australian Migration Lawyers, we have extensive experience handling complex matters such as appeals and tribunal cases. Get in touch with us to see how we can help you.

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The Australian Migration Lawyers difference

What is the Administrative Appeals Tribunal?

The AAT is an independent merits review body of Australia that reviews administrative decisions made by state government bodies such as ministers, departments and agencies provided that the relevant legislation permits such review. It consists of multiple divisions, one of which is the Migration & Refugee Division which has jurisdiction to review decisions and hear matters relating to visa cancellations and refusals. 

What is the difference between the AAT and Court?

The AAT reviews decisions by standing in the shoes of the original decision maker. The AAT has less formality than a court, and it makes its decision by assessing the matter and the evidence with ‘fresh eyes’. Courts, on the other hand, can review decisions (including those of the AAT) on the basis of whether the law has been applied correctly.

What is an AAT appeal?

An AAT appeal is a review of a decision made by a government body whereby an individual believes that an incorrect decision has been made and there are grounds for review. In Australia, when it comes to a visa application, the decision-making body is the Department of Home Affairs.

An appeal gives the applicant the opportunity to present arguments and information, such as supplying supporting documents or evidence, to the Tribunal to consider and review.

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Applying for an appeal

The following briefly outlines the process of applying for an appeal  in the Migration and Refugee Division:

  • Lodge an application with the AAT
  • Receive a confirmation letter from the AAT
  • All relevant files and documents relating to the decision under review will be provided by the Department of Home Affairs  
  • Prepare for the hearing by planning out what you will say, having a copy of all the evidence and supporting documents in which you rely on and arriving early on the day 
  • A tribunal member will be allocated 
  • The AAT may request for further information from you 
  • The AAT will send a letter inviting you to attend the hearing 
  • Attend the hearing with witnesses and immigration lawyer
  • The member will hear and assess your matter before reaching a decision 

Time limits

When it comes to time limits, it’s incredibly important to understand your circumstances. Any decision other than decisions made under section 501 and 501CA of the Migration Act require you to lodge an application for an appeal within 28 days following the notification of the decision. Ensuring you lodge your application to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and undergo the review process within your specified time period is where legal assistance is paramount. Reach out to us at AML to keep you on the right track to obtaining your visa.

What decisions can be made at the AAT?

AAT members can make the following decisions:  

  • Affirm a decision
  • Vary a decision
  • Set aside a decision 
  • Remit a decision

Benefits of using an immigration lawyer

The team at Australian Migration Lawyers have extensive experience with Australian migration law. We have experience with AAT appeals and we do not shy away from cases of significant complexity. One of our primary objectives is to enhance access to justice, a commitment we fulfil by representing every individual who entrusts us with their visa cancellation or visa refusal. 

  • Our team consists of Australian legal practitioners who leverage their grasp of Australian laws and legal precedents to provide assistance with the appeal process.
  • We advise you on other migration avenues and strategies available to you.
  • As legal professionals, we help to ensure that your application complies with all legal requirements.
  • We assist with preparing your application right through to the decision, including working with you to address any additional requests made by the AAT.

Costs associated with appeals

There are two main costs associated with AAT appeals:

1. Professional fees 

Our fees will vary depending on the circumstances of your application. Some applications will be more complex than others and our fees will be quoted accordingly. We often work on a fixed-fee basis rather than billing hourly to provide our clients with certainty about the total costs associated with their appeal. Depending on a client’s financial needs, we may offer payment plans to provide flexibility for our clients. Book a free consultation with one of our qualified lawyers to get a quote.

2. AAT fees 

The current application fee for the Tribunal excluding applications for review of bridging visas is $3374. This fee must be paid upfront before the deadline. Payment can be made using EFTPOS, debit/credit card or cheque. 

Visa appeal process

Appealing for a visa can be complex. With help from an Australian Migration Lawyer, we can untangle this complexity, and help you on your appeal journey.

1. Consultation and engagement

2. Preparation and support

3. Submission and communication

4. Representation and outcome

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Processing times

The Member would ordinarily make a decision at the conclusion of the hearing or in writing at a later date. If an oral decision and reasons for the decision are made at the end of the hearing, a written copy will be sent to you if a request is made within 14 days after the oral decision was given. If an oral decision is not made, a written decision and its reasons will be sent to you and the Department at a later date.  

Considerations

At Australian Migration Lawyers, our team of highly skilled legal practitioners is focused on Australian migration law. Despite our experience with migration law, we cannot guarantee the success of your AAT appeal.

The decision lies solely with the AAT who will reach a decision based on the evidence submitted. Our role is to help present your case as best as possible. With our in-depth understanding of the law, however, we will help to ensure that sufficient evidence is provided during the appeal process.

Frequently asked questions

Read our most commonly asked questions about AAT appeals:

Can I represent myself?

An Applicant is permitted to represent themselves. We recommend that you seek assistance from a legal representative who can advise you on preparation for the hearing, the compilation of evidence, preparation of written submissions, and represent you at the AAT if necessary.

What happens if I miss my AAT hearing?

The AAT may dismiss your application or make a decision in your absence. Therefore, it is important that you attend the hearing to present your case and provide your version of events to avoid an adverse outcome.

Can an AAT decision be appealed?

An AAT decision may be appealed to the Federal Court within 35 days following the decision from the AAT and only on a question of law. AML can advise you in relation to the appeal process.

Meet your Australian Migration Lawyer

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About the content author

Perry Q Wood
Partner - Principal Migration Lawyer

Perry Q Wood is National President of the Australian Institute of Administrative Law and one of Australia’s leading administrative and migration lawyers. To date, he has been involved in 1,000+ migration and refugee matters.

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