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Australian visa cancellation

Understanding visa cancellations

Australia offers a range of visa options to foreign nationals, allowing them to stay in Australia temporarily or even permanently. However, with the privilege of holding an Australian visa comes a set of responsibilities and conditions. Failure to comply with these regulations or changes in personal circumstances can lead to the cancellation of one's visa. 

Understanding this crucial aspect of Australian immigration is essential for those seeking to enjoy their stay in this magnificent country while adhering to its laws and regulations. We explore the reasons behind it, the processes involved, and the potential consequences for visa holders.

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What is visa cancellation?

Understanding what visa cancellation entails is crucial for anyone navigating Australian immigration policies. Visa cancellation refers to the formal termination of a previously approved and valid visa. This action invalidates the visa, meaning the affected individual is no longer authorised to stay in Australia or use that visa for entry. This situation can arise across various visa types, each with its specificities and implications. To gain a deeper insight into how visa cancellations might affect different visa categories, we invite you to explore the following dedicated pages:

Discover the specific reasons and procedures for the cancellation of business and working visas, and the implications for professionals and entrepreneurs in Australia.

Explore how medical or health-related issues can lead to visa cancellations, and the options available for those affected.

Learn about the unique considerations and potential consequences of partner visa cancellations, including effects on family and relationship status.

Understand the critical aspects of protection visa cancellations, including the grounds and impacts on asylum seekers and refugees.

Find out what leads to student visa cancellations, and what it means for international students' education and stay in Australia.

Get insights into the reasons behind tourist or visitor visa cancellations, and how it affects short-term stays in Australia.

Visa cancellation process

Navigating the complexities of visa cancellations can be daunting. This section provides an overview of the process, all the way through to the filing of submissions and the determination of your application. We emphasise the importance of representation throughout the process to ensure your interests are protected. Our experienced team offers dedicated support, ensuring that every client is well-informed and prepared for every stage of their visa journey. Our process includes the following steps:

1. Consultation and engagement

2. Preparation and support

3. Submission and communication

4. Representation and outcome

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Power to cancel a visa

Your employer, a sponsor or family member cannot cancel your visa. Cancelling visas is at the discretion of the Department of Home Affairs. Therefore, only the Minister or a delegate of the Minister can cancel your visa.

Importantly, if the Department cancels your visa, your family members’ visas may also be cancelled.

Visa cancellation can be discretionary, mandatory, or by the operation of law. However, you can ask the Department to cancel your visa in some circumstances. Additionally, a parent or guardian can request the Department to cancel the visa of a person under 18 years old.

Reasons for visa cancellation

Discretionary Cancellation: There are many reasons that may lead to visa cancellation, including where:

  • You breached your visa conditions
  • You did not meet Australian visa character requirements
  • You provided false information on your visa application
  • You were involved in paying for visa sponsorship
  • You were no longer enrolled in a registered course (if you are a student visa holders)
  • You contravened Biosecurity laws such as failing to declare certain goods on your incoming passenger card, and disobeying directions given by a Biosecurity officer in relation to goods or baggage
  • You imported prohibited goods and materials without permission

Mandatory Cancellation: The Department must cancel your visa if you are serving a sentence in a prison full-time for a crime and you have:

  • Been sentenced to death, or imprisonment for longer than a year
  • Been convicted of a child-related sexual offence

How do you know your visa has been cancelled?

If you are in Australia or immigration clearance, the Department will usually notify you of their intention to consider cancelling your visa. They will give you the opportunity to put forward reasons why they should not cancel your visa.

If you are outside Australia, the Department has the power to cancel your visa without any visa cancellation notice.

Consequences of visa cancellation

If your visa is cancelled, you might be barred from making further applications. In other words, it may prevent you from being granted certain visas to travel to, enter, or stay in Australia. 

Moreover, if you have applied for another visa and are granted a Bridging visa A (BVA), your BVA will cease at the time your current visa is cancelled.

If you have a visa cancelled on character grounds since your last arrival in Australia, the only visa you can apply for is a Protection visa. Also, it is very difficult for you to satisfy the character requirements when applying for another visa to re-enter Australia.

Exploring options post-visa cancellation

Facing a visa cancellation can indeed be a stressful and challenging experience. However, it's essential to remember that there are still pathways available to challenge such decisions and potentially secure a new visa. 

You can appeal the cancellation by submitting an application to the independent Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) which is responsible for undertaking merits review of departmental decisions, including visa cancellation decisions.

Please be aware that appeals have strict time limits. You must appeal within the time specified in the Department’s notification letter. 

It is also available to you to seek judicial review if you believe the cancellation decision was not lawfully made.

Seeking immigration assistance from registered migration agents or immigration lawyers is absolutely essential when challenging visa cancellation decisions. The process of addressing visa cancellations demands a deep understanding of immigration law and extensive experience navigating the complexities of the system. Visa cancellations can have profound and lasting consequences, potentially making it exceedingly difficult to secure an Australian visa in the future. Therefore, it is paramount not to jeopardize your chances by attempting to navigate this intricate process alone.

Benefits of using an immigration lawyer

While we cannot offer guarantees of success, as no such assurances exist in immigration matters, we genuinely care about our clients and their unique circumstances. Therefore, our commitment is to provide unwavering support and timely assistance, ensuring that you receive quality guidance tailored to your appeal process and visa pathway.

  • Australian Migration Lawyers is a distinguished firm backed by a team of highly trained Australian lawyers.
  • Our lawyers have specific knowledge of migration law.
  • We have  wealth of experience in handling a wide spectrum of immigration matters, including complex visa cancellation cases and representation at courts and tribunals.
  • We can help make the process straightforward and stress-free.

Frequently asked questions

Read our most commonly asked questions about visa cancellations:

What happens if my visa is cancelled and I don’t leave Australia?

Remaining in Australia after your visa is cancelled is not a viable option as you will be considered an unlawful non-citizen in Australia. If you don’t leave voluntarily, you may be subject to deportation where the Australian government will forcibly remove you from the country at your own expenses. Also, you may be detained at immigration detention centres while arrangements are made for your removal from Australia. Further, immigration history can significantly impact your future visa applications and it would be challenging for you to access essential services such as healthcare, education, and employment while overstaying in Australia.

Can I apply for a new Australian visa following a visa cancellation?

The Department might apply a re-entry ban which prevents you from applying for a new visa following your previous visa cancellation. Depending on the circumstances, if you don’t face a re-entry ban or restriction for a specific period, you can apply for a new Australian visa after that. However, a previous visa cancellation may impact the assessment of your new visa application, so it is essential to demonstrate your eligibility and compliance with visa conditions.

Can I appeal against a visa cancellation decision?

Yes, you can appeal against a visa cancellation decision. The appeal must be lodged with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) within a specific timeframe mentioned in the cancellation notice. The AAT will review the decision and determine if it was made in accordance with the law. It's advisable to seek legal advice to assist with the appeal process.

What are the long-term implications of a visa cancellation on future applications?

A visa cancellation can significantly impact your future visa applications. It may lead to a re-entry ban for a certain period, and future applications will likely undergo more rigorous scrutiny. It's essential to disclose any past visa cancellations in subsequent applications.

Can visa cancellation affect my family members?

Yes, if your visa is cancelled, it may have implications for family members who hold dependent visas. Their visas can be at risk of cancellation as well, depending on their individual circumstances and the reasons for your visa cancellation.

Is it possible to prevent visa cancellation?

Prevention depends on the reasons for potential cancellation. Staying compliant with visa conditions, providing accurate information in applications, and promptly addressing issues raised by immigration authorities can help prevent cancellation. In some cases, engaging a migration lawyer early can assist in resolving issues before cancellation occurs.

What should I do immediately after receiving a visa cancellation notice?

Immediately seek legal advice. Time is of the essence as you may have a limited period to respond or appeal the decision. Collect and organize any relevant documents and information that may support your case.

Are there any exceptions to mandatory visa cancellations?

Mandatory cancellations typically have fewer grounds for exception. However, individual circumstances such as humanitarian considerations may be taken into account. Legal advice is essential in these situations.

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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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