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Appeal Against a Visa or Citizenship Refusal

AAT Merits Review


When an applicant is convinced that he/she has been negatively affected by an ‘administrative decision’ of the Department of Home Affairs, then often such an applicant may challenge that decision before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (‘AAT’). For example, if a person applies for his/her Visitor visa, Partner visa, or onshore Protection visa, or Student visa, which gets refused (or cancelled), then that decision, generally, may be challenged before the AAT.

Similarly, AAT can take a fresh look at a Department's decision to refuse your application for 
Australian Citizenship application or to cancel your Australian Citizenship.


Once a decision is challenged before the AAT, the AAT can assess all the facts of the case. It can then make a new ('de novo') decision. The AAT can ‘affirm’ the decision (that means it can determine that the original decision does not need to be changed); or it can ‘remit’ the matter back to the Department of Home Affairs with directions/findings (that means, once your matter/case is remitted/returned to the Department of Home Affairs, the Department will have to consider your case again in light of the AAT directions). After remittal, the Department of Home Affairs may replace its previous decision to refuse your visa or citizenship application with a fresh decision to grant you a visa or approve your citizenship. Further, AAT may also ‘substitute’ the Department of Home Affairs’ decision with its own decision. That simply means AAT can accept your appeal and grant you the visa that was refused previously by the Department of Home Affairs.



Practical Tips For AAT Merits Review Applications

  • It is not always a straightforward and easy task to convince the AAT that your visa or citizenship application was refused (or cancelled) incorrectly. Hence you must consider and collect all the information and evidence that may strengthen your visa or citizenship application while you wait for the hearing at AAT. Remember, AAT can consider all the relevant evidence up to the point of deciding on your review application.

  • When completing any relevant application and forms for AAT review, you must think about why you are expected to make a particular statement. Why a particular question has been inserted in a form? (Remember: most of the statements and questions are in the application/forms for a reason).

  • Seek professional assistance to maximize your chances of success in securing your desired outcome in AAT Appeals.

  • ​If your application has been refused by the Department, then you must look for your ‘Review Rights’ in the notice of refusal you received. Also, find out how many days you have to challenge the refusal. If you have been given ‘Review Rights’ and a timeframe in which you can challenge the decision, then you must lodge your review application within that timeframe. If you fail to lodge your review application within the stipulated time, you will most likely not be able to challenge the refusal or cancellation decision after the deadline. After the deadline, AAT may not be able to take up your review application even if you are certain that your visa was refused incorrectly. 

How To Apply For AAT Merits Review?

You can lodge an AAT Merits Review application for a migration-related matter through AAT's online Portal. It is quite easy to use. You can also upload any supporting documents through that portal. Depending upon the nature of your AAT Review Application, your application will be heard either in the General Division of the AAT or the Migration & Review Division of the AAT.

If you are unsure about an AAT Merits Review Application and do not know where to start, you can contact the nearest AAT registry for guidance. They can point you in the right direction. 


Should You Seek Professional Assistance for an AAT Appeal?


Often, challenging a refusal decision before AAT is not a cheap and easy option for everyone. You must have a good understanding of the workings of AAT and the relevant laws, policies, and procedures to be able to present your matter before AAT with confidence. If this is the first time you are applying for a merits review/appeal before AAT then you may need to ensure that you get your facts correct from the beginning, your understanding of the relevant visa/citizenship criteria is sound, and you have all the evidence you may need at AAT.

AAT Application Fee

  • The application fee for AAT appeals is:

    •  AUD 1,940 for the review of a Protection visa, and

    • AUD 3,153 for the review of most other visa refusals/cancellation decisions. ​


AAT will refund:

  • the application fee you paid if AAT decides that your application is invalid

  • 50% of the full application fee if you paid the full fee and AAT decides you can pay the reduced fee.

    • If the review is decided in your favour, AAT will refund:

      • 50% of the reduced fee amount you paid; or

      • 50% of the full application fee if you paid the full fee.

    • If you withdraw the application for review a refund of the fee is only paid in very limited circumstances.

    • However, in some cases, either there is no fee, or you may be eligible to pay a reduced fee.


Processing Times

Depending upon the type of your Merits Review application, the AAT may take from a few months to a few years to make a decision on your application. In very exceptional cases, the AAT may conduct a 'priority hearing' upon request.

See Our Blog(s) On AAT Reviews and Appeals To Learn More


If you need our assistance with your AAT matter then we are here to help you! Should you wish to discuss your circumstances and options with us, please click on contact us.

Warning! Please note that Australian immigration laws and policies are highly complex and dynamic. Therefore, no information provided on this website concerning Australian immigration laws and policies (or on any other matter) is comprehensive and intended to be legal advice. Failure to receive professional advice - tailored to your specific circumstances - may prove costly to you in many respects. Please read our Terms and Conditions.

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