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Appealing a Personal Visa Decision

There may be several options to appeal a visa refusal decision.

Our expert migration lawyers can assist you with determining the best appeal pathway for your case, compiling the required information and submitting your appeal. 

Can I appeal a visa refusal decision in Australia? 

Most Australian visa refusals decisions have the right to be appealed. If you have had a visa refused in Australia, you may be eligible to appeal the visa refusal to a tribunal or a court. Some visas do not have a right of appeal if they were lodged offshore and there is no sponsor in Australia.

You should read your visa refusal notice carefully because each decision is different. This letter should advise:

  • if you have the right to appeal your decision
  • the timeframe available to lodge the appeal
  • the relevant appeal body your appeal should be directed to

If your letter does not outline this information, we suggest that you obtain legal advice.

The most common place to appeal a visa refusal decision to is the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). There are strict time limits when appealing to the AAT so it is very important to read the appeal deadline in your visa refusal letter carefully. Unfortunately, AAT appeal deadlines cannot be extended. You can read more about this process on our Administrative Appeals Tribunal page.

Some visa refusal decisions are appealed to the courts instead. For example, when the Minister for Immigration personally decides to refuse a visa based on character grounds. You can read more about this process on our Court appeals page.

We recommend you receive immigration advice from a lawyer before lodging your visa appeal so that you can learn if your visa appeal is likely to win. In some cases a visa appeal cannot win because certain visa criteria have not been met. In other situations there may be a quicker or cheaper solution to appealing the visa refusal, such as applying for another visa.

What are the requirements for a visa refusal appeal?

To appeal a visa refusal decision you must:

  • Have received a visa refusal decision (you should include a copy of this with your appeal application)
  • Lodge the appeal paperwork with the relevant appeal body (generally online or in person, however, the IAA does not require an application)
  • Lodge the appeal paperwork by the relevant deadline
  • Pay the relevant appeals fee (some appeals are free or have the option of having the fee reduced or waived)

Most commonly you will lodge a visa refusal appeal with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). You can find more information about the AAT appeals process on our AAT page. In some cases you may instead appeal to the Immigration Assessment Authority, the Federal Circuit Court, the Federal Court and in some cases with the High Court of Australia.

Where is an Australian visa refusal appeal heard?

Australian visa refusal appeals are most commonly heard in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), however, in some cases you may need to appeal to the Immigration Assessment Authority, the Federal Circuit Court, the Federal Court of Australia and in some cases with the High Court of Australia. You should read your visa refusal notice carefully to understand which appeal body is relevant in your case.

AAT appeals generally include a hearing. The hearing will typically be held at the AAT in a hearing room with an AAT Tribunal Member. Each Australian state and territory has their own AAT location. The AAT will write to you and inform you of the date, time and location of your hearing. They will also advise you if an interpreter has been booked for your hearing.

In many AAT appeals, the hearing will take place in person however, under certain circumstances, you may be requested to attend your hearing via telephone or video conference.

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. For information regarding AAT hearings you can visit our Administrative Appeals Tribunals page.

If your visa refusal decision is not able to be appealed to the AAT, or if you have received a negative decision at the AAT, you may be able to appeal your decision to a court. Court hearings are very different to Tribunal hearings as they generally involve more technical legal arguments. You can learn more about court appeals here.

Questions about appealing a visa decision? Book a free 10 minute consultation online with one of our expert immigration lawyers.

An experienced migration lawyer can make all the difference when you need.

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