Here we have outlined 4 simple steps to follow after receiving your pre-hearing request to ensure you are prepared for your hearing:
The pre-hearing request email is a new process introduced by the AAT to help gather information and gain a better understanding of your case in the lead up to your hearing date. It is an important step in the AAT hearing process!
The AAT hearing is an important opportunity to explain your circumstances in person and the reasons why you disagree with your migration decision. It is also a chance for the AAT to ask you questions and get a better understanding of your appeal.
Take a deep breath
The first step, take a deep breath. It is very normal to feel stressed when you receive this email; you may have been waiting a long time for your AAT matter to progress and now you are one step closer to a hearing date. It’s important that you don’t ignore the AAT pre-hearing information request. The good news is that things are progressing on your case and you now have an opportunity to get prepared and put forward your best case.Handy hint: Start taking action now that you have your AAT pre-hearing information request. Some people come to us just days before their hearing because they have felt too worried about what to do next. This is a common response but the earlier that you take action, the more time you will have to prepare and put your best foot forward.
Read the pre-hearing request carefully
The important things to do are:
- Provide your accurate availability (including for anyone you are planning to bring to the hearing like witnesses) over the next three months – the AAT is unlikely to change your hearing date once it is set unless there is a good reason for doing so
- Outline the people who will attend the hearing with you, including any other applicants on your case, your witnesses, support persons or migration lawyer
Handy hint: The AAT requires the pre-hearing information form to be completed and returned within 7 days. Generally we recommend that your migration lawyer completes this form for you to ensure all the information included is consistent with your case strategy.
- Answer if you wish to participate in a hearing by video or telephone – if you are concerned you have difficulty with this then include your reasons
- Submit the pre-hearing information form by the deadline (generally within 7 days of receiving the email)
Speak to a migration lawyer
It is not mandatory to have a migration lawyer attend your AAT hearing but it may give your case the best chance of success if you do. Migration appeals can be complex and involve a strong understanding of the migration laws that impact your situation. They can also bring a lot of stress with them.
At WLW our migration lawyers will:
- Respond to the pre-hearing information request
- Respond to the AAT hearing invitation letter
- Request and review your immigration file through Freedom of Information (if relevant)
- Explain the best strategy or response to the Department of Home Affairs’ decision
- Assist you to prepare a statement outlining your explanation of different aspects of your case
Handy hint: It is important that you have good communication with your migration lawyer and understand the steps involved in your case. If in doubt, ask what the strategy is and the types of documents or information you can gather to help your case.
- Explain any other evidence that may be needed, such as medical reports or letters of support
- Assist you to obtain any medical reports (if relevant)
- Prepare a legal submission outlining the legal reasons why your case should be successful (referring to visa criteria and caselaw)
- Prepare you for the AAT hearing
- Attend the AAT hearing with you
- Provide oral submissions at the hearing explaining why your case should be successful
Finalise your AAT appeal material
An AAT hearing is an important opportunity to tell your story in detail and address any issues that you may have found in the Departmental visa refusal decision. It is important to be well prepared for the hearing, to have supportive evidence and to ensure all the legal criteria are met in order to have a successful appeal. Now that you have received your pre-hearing information request you know that your hearing will be scheduled soon so it important to use this time carefully.
In order to be well prepared you should understand the reasons why your visa application was refused or your visa was cancelled by the Department of Home Affairs. There may be one or more reasons that you were not granted a visa, so carefully read the Department of Home Affairs decision to ensure you are clear on the reason(s).
The best strategy for your AAT appeal will depend on your individual circumstances and the reasons given in the decision. Often the best strategy can involve:
- Preparing a statement outlining your explanation of different aspects of your case
- Obtaining supporting evidence such as medical reports or letters of support
Handy hint: It is important that the AAT appeal material (information and documents) are submitted to the AAT by the deadline included in your AAT hearing invitation letter. Generally this is at least 7 days before the AAT hearing date. This will allow the AAT time to review the material and it generally makes your hearing much smoother.
- Identifying people who could be witnesses to support different aspects of your case
- Doing legal research to explain why your case should win at the AAT and providing the AAT with a legal submission
Most AAT Migration and Refugee Division matters follow the same process.
Our Immigration Law Team
WLW Migration Lawyers is an award-winning specialist immigration law firm, led by Jessica Williamson, James Wardlaw and Simon Leske along with a team of skillful and compassionate lawyers and support staff.