Administrative Appeals Tribunal

Administrative Appeals Tribunal ("AAT") is an independent merits review tribunal that reviews the Department of Home Affairs' decisions within its jurisdiction. The AAT, in its merits review process, will reconsider the facts, law, and policy aspects of the original decision. AAT also has powers to review new information unavailable to the original decision-maker.

Options Available

If you have received a visa refusal, you can either:

1. Lodge Another Visa Application

If your offshore visa was refused, you might not (further assessment is required to confirm this) have any AAT review rights. In this case, you may need to lodge another application with additional supporting evidence with legal submissions addressing the refusal.

2. Appeal your application to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal

If your visa refusal falls within the jurisdiction of AAT, the tribunal is within its power to review this decision. The AAT has a range of powers to review decisions made under the Migration Act 1958 to:

  • refuse or cancel different types of visas
  • refuse or cancel visa sponsorship and nomination.

and many more. 

Benefits of AAT Appeals Process

AAT can review decisions to refuse or cancel visa/sponsorship

AAT will allow you to stay back in Australia during the appeal period

AAT can set aside decisions made by the Department

Administrative Appeals Tribunal Eligibility

To be eligible for the appeal process, you must be:

  • Currently in Australia;
  • Have you recently had a decision from the Department of Home Affairs;
    • to refuse or cancel different types of visas
    • to refuse to approve a nomination of an occupation, activity or position
    • to bar, refuse to approve or cancel the approval of a sponsor
    • relating to requiring a security
  • Must have received the refusal letter in less than 28 days.  

What outcomes can the AAT make?

When the AAT reviews a decision, AAT can choose to affirm, vary, set aside or remit the decision. 

Set aside/Remit the Decision

If AAT set aside a decision, it means the AAT agree or partially agree the original decision was wrong. The AAT might replace it with a new decision or remit the decision. In case of remission, the AAT will send the matter back to the department to make a new decision in accordance with AAT's instruction.

Affirm the Decision

If the AAT affirm the decision, it means that the Department decision will remain unchanged. 

Vary a decision

If AAT vary a decision, it means the Department's original decision is changed or altered in some way.

How to Apply for an AAT Appeal

Step 1: Create an AAT Action Plan

Our Registered Migration Agents will evaluate your refusal letter to begin your AAT process and identify why your visa was refused/cancelled. Once we have a case conference to determine the cause of refusal, we will advise you of an AAT Action Plan to ensure that you reach your desired migration goals in Australia.

STEP 2: Lodge your AAT Application

Once our Agents create your AAT Action Plan, they will assist you in lodging your appeal before the expiry period. Once the application is lodged, AAT will send us an acknowledgment letter to confirm that the application has been received.

Step 3: Prepare your AAT Case Submission

After the AAT case lodgement, our agents will prepare a legal submission to address the reason for the Department's refusal. In our submission, our agents will outline: 

  1. The case background;
  2. Reasons for refusal; 
  3. Facts of the case and the Migration Regulations that the Department believed you did not satisfy;
  4. Policy and Case Law surrounding your case; 
  5. Arguments based on policy as to why the initial decision was incorrect; and
  6. Any new information/evidence that is available to submit to the AAT for consideration. 

Step 4: Prepare the AAT Hearing

Once the AAT picks up your application and allocates it to an AAT member, it will review the submissions and documents submitted and invite you to a hearing.

Once we hear from the AAT with a hearing date, we will organise a case conference to discuss the matter with you and prepare you for the hearing.

STEP 2: Attend the Hearing

The hearing is an opportunity for you, a representative of the decision-maker and any other party, to present information and arguments about the decision under review.

The hearing is relatively informal and will usually be conducted by one Tribunal Member. The Member is the person who will make a decision about the review.

During the hearing, 

  • the Member will explain what will happen during the hearing
  • Your representative can talk on your behalf, but the Member might ask you to respond as well.
  • you will be asked to take an oath or make an affirmation that you will tell the truth at the hearing
  • any witnesses will be asked to give evidence. 
  • you and the representative of the decision-maker and any other party will have an opportunity to give a brief summary of all the main arguments in the review.


The length of the hearing varies from case to case. Many hearings are finished in under 3 hours, but they can be longer.

Step 6: Wait for AAT Outcome

Once the hearing is completed, the member will either:

  1. Request for further documents to support your case
  2. Make a decision at the end of the hearing or in writing within two months of the hearing. 


The AAT can make the following decisions:

  • Affirm the decision: the decision is not changed
  • Vary the decision: the decision is changed
  • Set aside the decision and substitute a new decision: the decision is replaced with a new decision
  • Set aside and remit the decision: the matter is sent back to the decision-maker to make a new decision

Something else ?


    We are happy to answer
    any queries you may have

    Can I stay back in Australia when my AAT is being processed?

    Yes, you can stay back in Australia, if you have a substantive visa or have received a bridging visa, while your refusal is being processed at the AAT. We advise you to do a VEVO check to review your Immigration status. 

    Can I work while my AAT Application is being processed?

    You may be able to work when the AAT application is being processed, depending on the condition on your current visa/bridging visa. If you are on a bridging visa, you most likely would need to apply for work rights. 

    Can I travel outside Australia while the AAT is being processed?

    Yes, you may travel overseas if you have a valid visa to return with or if you have an approved Bridging Visa B and travel ban exemption (if applicable to return), during your time overseas.  

    When do I need to apply for a review by?

    The decision letter sent by the department should state the time limit that applies to making an application to AAT. The time limit to apply for a review is usually 28 days after you receive the decision from the Department. 

    What if I have missed the AAT Lodgement Deadline?

    You can apply to AAT to extend the time to lodge your application. You must apply in writing and include reasons why the application is late.

    How do I lodge a review application?

    To apply for review, you must complete and lodge an ‘Application for Review’ form and pay the application fee (or 50% of the application fee together with an application for fee reduction) within the time limit to the AAT.

    Can I appeal the AAT decision if I am not satisfied with it?

    Yes, you must lodge an appeal with the Federal Court on a question of law within 28 days after receiving AAT’s decision, should you wish to appeal it further. 

    Can I have an interpreter during the hearing?

    Yes. If you need an interpreter, AAT will arrange for a qualified interpreter to assist, free of charge.

    Can I withdraw the review?

    Yes, you can withdraw an application for review at any time before a decision is made if you are the applicant. You will need to fill in the withdrawal form and send it to AAT.

    What is an AAT Hearing?

    The hearing is an opportunity for you, a representative of the decision-maker and any other party, to present information and arguments about the decision under review.

    Can AAT refund my fees?

    AAT will refund:

    • the whole amount if the AAT Application was invalid
    • 50% of the full application fee if you paid the full fee and AAT decide that 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.

    Summary of cost estimates
    for your application

    The AAT application fee is $3,000. The AAT fee may be reduced by 50% if AAT is satisfied that the full payment has caused, or is likely to cause, severe financial hardship to the review applicant


    AAT Processing during COVID times

    Online Hearing

    In light of the current circumstances, most of AAT hearings and conferences are being conducted remotely by video conference or telephone. In limited circumstances, AAT is contacting people to arrange in person hearings.

    Registries Open

    AAT registries are open during regular business hours (from 8:30am to 5:00pm weekdays, excluding public holidays). The AAT, however, ask that you consider whether you need to visit them in person or whether you can contact them another way instead.


    AAT will give priority to cases that:

      1.  don’t need a hearing, or
      2.  can have a hearing by telephone or video conference.
    Contact Us

    Feel free to ask anything

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      Melbourne Office
      Shop 7, 401 St Kilda Road
      Melbourne VIC 3004
      Caroline Springs Office

      Unit 7, 242-224 Caroline Springs Blvd
      Caroline Springs VIC 3023

      Northern Territory Office

      18 Tambling Terrace
      Lyons, NT- 0810

      +613 9654 8611

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