Visa Refusal | AAT Appeal

You may be able to appeal your visa refusal, visa cancellation, business sponsorship or nomination application refusal to the AAT (Administrative Appeals Tribunal).

The role of the Tribunal is to review the Department’s decision for refusing your application (or cancelling your visa), and re-decide if the Department’s decision was correct. The relevant Tribunal Member will assess and decide if your application satisfies the relevant legal requirements for approval. The AAT can make a decision in your favour and decide that the Department’s decision is incorrect and send the matter back to the Department for reconsideration. If the matter is sent back to the Department for reconsideration, generally speaking, the Department will grant the visa or revoke the visa cancellation.

The AAT can also decide that the Department’s decision was correct and confirm this in its decision. If this occurs, then your appeal is not successful (the consequences of this are explained below).

      Visa Refusal | AAT Appeal

      Who can apply for AAT review?

      You may be able to apply for AAT review in the following situations:

      • You are in Australia, applied for a visa and this application was refused by the Department
      • You are in Australia and your visa was cancelled by the Department
      • You are in Australia and your visa was cancelled and your application to have the cancellation revoked was refused by the Department
      • You are sponsored or nominated by an employer or another person for a visa, and you lodged this visa application outside of Australia. Approval of the sponsorship or nomination must be a requirement for visa approval. Your sponsor or nominator may apply to the AAT for review of the decision to refuse your visa application. Individuals who may be able to apply for AAT review on this basis include applicants who are sponsored by their employer (457, 482 TSS, 186 or 187 visas), sponsor or partner (309/100 and 300 visas), family members (carer or remaining relative visas) etc. Note: For Resident Return visas and Visitor visas, only a parent, spouse, child, brother or sister of the visa applicant may apply for review if the visa applicant was outside of Australia at the time of visa application
      • You are an employer that applied for Standard Business Sponsorship and this application was refused

      The AAT cannot review a decision to cancel a visa if the cancellation occurred when the visa holder was outside of Australia.

      If the visa applicant or holder is in Australia, then they are the person who should apply for review. If the visa applicant is overseas, then in most cases the Australian sponsor, nominator or family member makes the application for review.

      The business sponsor or employer must apply for review in relation to a refusal of a Standard Business Sponsorship and/or nomination application.

      How does the AAT process work?

      The AAT will complete its own independent assessment of your application to determine if the relevant legal requirements are satisfied. The AAT will review:

      • All evidence, documents forms and interview records held by the Department (you can obtain a copy of these records by completing a Freedom of Information request with the Department)
      • Any submissions or evidence which you submit to the AAT for their consideration, and
      • Any evidence provided at the hearing

      The AAT also has independent power to conduct its own investigations. For example it may contact your employer, friends or family if you have provided evidence from, or about, them, or if the Tribunal Member believes that such information and documents are relevant in deciding your application.

      If the AAT has any adverse information about you (i.e. information which may cause the review application to fail) then the Tribunal should notify you and ask you to comment on that adverse information held by the AAT. If you receive such a notification it is very important that you do respond to the request for comments within the time limit specified, otherwise your review application may fail.

      Generally speaking, the following events will occur when you appeal to the AAT:

      1. You will lodge your AAT application within the allowed time limit. You can lodge your AAT appeal online (you are allowed to lodge multiple appeals using the same AAT online account. You don’t need to create separate accounts if you need to lodge multiple appeals, such as appealing both business nomination and visa application refusals)
      2. When you are completing the online appeal form, you will get to a web page that will ask you to upload relevant supporting documents. You should upload a copy of the Department’s PDF Refusal Decision Record, which would be attached to the email from the Department notifying you of your application refusal. Generally speaking, this is the only document that the AAT will need immediately after the lodgement of your appeal. If you do not upload this document now (or after lodgement of your appeal via your online AAT account), then the AAT will likely send you an email asking you to upload this document. After lodging your appeal, you can log back into your online AAT account and upload further relevant documents for your appeal
      3. After you pay and lodge your online appeal, you should receive an auto-mated email from the Tribunal confirming that they have received your appeal. The AAT’s standard letters state that the validity of your appeal has not been assessed yet – extract from current standard AAT letter: Please note that the validity of your application has not yet been assessed. We can only review a decision if a valid application for review has been made. You will be advised if it appears that your application may not be valid. If you lodged a valid appeal, then the AAT will not send you any further correspondence to confirm that your appeal is valid. You can assume that your appeal is valid and in the queue if you do not receive any further correspondence from the AAT. The AAT will however send you further email correspondence if there are any issues or questions in relation to the validity of your appeal
      4. Generally speaking, you will not receive any further correspondence or instructions from the AAT after lodging your valid appeal, while you wait the AAT’s processing time. The AAT will generally only contact you once the relevant Tribunal Member has been allocated to your appeal, and he or she has set a hearing date for your appeal. The AAT’s correspondence would also ask you to submit any further documents and information that you would like the Tribunal Member to consider in his or her assessment, and this correspondence may also provide a list of particular information and documents that the Tribunal Member requires (this would generally mean that the Tribunal Member has reviewed the information and documents from the Department’s files and your earlier application, and any further information and documents that you uploaded via your online AAT account)
      5. The Tribunal Member may be able to make a favourable decision just based on considering the documents and evidence that the AAT has on file, without the need for a hearing. However, such decisions are rare and this will generally only occur if the appeal is straight forward, and you have provided information and documents which demonstrate that you satisfy the relevant legal requirements without the further need for hearing evidence. If a decision cannot be made based on considering only the documents and information held by the AAT, then you will be invited to provide comments or provide further information to the AAT – it is important that you do respond to this invitation which includes a form that you need to complete and send back to the AAT to confirm your attendance. If you are unable to attend the appointed hearing date, then you need to email and correspond with the AAT as soon as possible to request for a re-scheduling of the hearing. In your request email, you need to attach supporting evidence to demonstrate why you cannot attend the appointed hearing date. Your request for an extension is at the discretion of the Tribunal Member deciding your appeal, and he or she is allowed to reject your request
      6. Your representing migration agent and/or solicitor can attend the hearing with you. However, generally speaking, your representative cannot speak on your behalf and answer the Tribunal Member’s hearing questions. You can speak with your migration agent and/or solicitor, and get advice and clarification from him or her during the hearing. You can request an interpreter if required
      7. The Tribunal Member may ask you to provide additional information and documents after the hearing, if this is required before the Tribunal Member can decide if your application satisfies the relevant legal requirements. The Tribunal Member may also schedule further hearings if required
      8. After your appeal hearing is finalised, the AAT will generally send you a written statement advising of the Tribunal Member’s decision

      AAT decision


      What if the AAT appeal is successful?​


      If your AAT application is successful, then your application will generally be remitted back to the Department for final determination and decision.


      The Department’s processing time for such applications is generally relatively short – say 4 to 8 weeks. However, processing times do vary significantly, and it may be months before you receive a decision from the Department.


      Approval of your AAT appeal does not guarantee that your application will be approved. The Department will still check to ensure that all the relevant eligibility requirements are satisfied. I have seen cases where the applicant has been successful with their AAT  appeal, but then the visa application is later refused for a different reason, such as not satisfying the relevant health and character requirements.


      What if my review is not successful?


      If your application for review at the AAT is not successful then you will be notified that your current bridging visa will cease in a certain period of time (generally speaking this is 21 days). If you do not want to leave Australia then you have two potential further avenues for review:


      • You can make a written request to the Minister to exercise her/his personal discretion to grant you a visa, or substitute a more favourable decision. This is an application for Ministerial Intervention
      • You may be able to appeal to the Federal Court or the Federal Magistrates Court – there are strict time limits for any such appeal

      Bridging visa & Work rights


      If you were granted a Bridging Visa A as a result of the visa application which the Department refused, then if you apply for AAT, this bridging visa will continue to be valid and will allow you to remain in Australia until the AAT has made a decision. If you do not appeal to the AAT then your Bridging Visa will expire and you will need to depart Australia or you will become unlawful.


      Can I work while I wait for my AAT hearing?


      That depends on the visa that you are currently holding. If you are holding a substantive visa, which are basically all visas except for bridging visas, then you need to comply with the conditions of your substantive visa. For example, if you are holding a student visa, then there may be restrictions on the number of hours that you can work. If you are a primary 457 visa holder, then you can only work for your sponsoring employer.


      If you are holding a bridging visa, then you need to check the conditions of your bridging visa. If you are holding a bridging visa and there are restrictions on your work rights, you may be able to apply for unrestricted work rights.


      This generally means that you need to demonstrate a ‘compelling need to work’. You need to provide evidence to show that you will suffer ‘financial hardship’ (or your household will suffer such hardship) unless you are allowed to work and earn an income.

      The Department’s policy guidelines indicates that ‘financial hardship’ is established if you can show that your living expenses are greater than your ability to pay for these costs.

      Can I apply for another visa?

      If you are still holding a substantive visa, then you should be able to lodge another visa application – assuming that you meet the relevant eligibility requirements. A ‘substantive’ visa is basically any visa which is not a bridging visa.

      If you do not hold a substantive visa (i.e. your last substantive visa has expired and you now hold a bridging visa that is associated with the AAT appeal), then Section 48 will bar you from making a further ‘substantive visa’ application because you have had a visa refusal, which is any visa except a Bridging visa, a Criminal Justice Visa or an Enforcement Visa.

      Despite Section 48, you can still lodge a valid application for the following types of visas: partner visas, bridging visas, Subclass 444 for New Zealand citizens and child visas.

      One possible way to lodge another visa application while you a waiting for an AAT hearing is to apply while  you are outside of Australia. If you are currently holding a Bridging visa A or B, then you may able to apply for a Bridging visa B which allows you to temporarily leave Australia. This may allow you to lodge another visa application with the Department, and then return to Australia on your Bridging visa B and remain in Australia while you wait for your AAT hearing.

      In terms of whether the Department can approve your new offshore visa application while you are in Australia, this will depend on the requirements of the visa that you applied for. For example, with General skilled migration visas (189, 190 and 489 visas) or employer sponsored permanent residency visas (186 and 187 visas), your offshore visa application can be decided when you are in Australia and hence, you won’t need to leave Australia for the Department to decide your new visa application. If you lodged an offshore partner visa (309/100 visa), then you do need to be outside of Australia at the time that the Department decides your visa application.

      Processing time & Appeal time limit


      What is the AAT application fee?


      The AAT application fee is currently $1,731.00, and 50% of this fee will be refunded if you are successful with your AAT appeal.

      There is no refund if your application is not successful, or if you later withdraw your AAT application.


      What is the time limit with appealing?


      It is important to note that there is a strict time limit by which you need to submit your AAT appeal application. The time limit will depend on the decision which is being challenged. However, the time limit within which you need to apply for AAT review is generally short.

      It is important that you carefully read the refusal or cancellation notice from the Department – this will tell you whether your refusal or cancellation is AAT reviewable, and the time by which you need to submit your application for review.

      The AAT cannot accept an application for review that is submitted outside of the allowed time frame. This is very strictly enforced.


      What is the AAT’s processing times?


      Generally speaking, waiting times are very lengthy and is around 12 to 18 months. Check the AAT website for average processing time.

      If you have circumstances that may warrant the AAT  treating your case with priority, you should bring this to the attention of the AAT (preferably when you lodge the application for review), together with appropriate evidence of why you require priority processing. Relevant circumstances could include:

      • being in detention
      • suffering from a serious medical condition
      • experiencing serious financial hardship
      • separation of a child from a parent or care giver
      Professional assistance with AAT appeal
      Hourly rates$275.00 (including GST)
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      Estimated professional fees$2,000.00 – $6,000.00 +
      (depending on time and work required)
      Consultation booking & Fixed fee quoteFixed professional fee quote and payment schedule will be provided to you after our initial consultation and assessment

      Our recently published appeal decisions


      GOLOG PTY LTD (Migration) [2018] AATA 2727 (22 June 2018)


      SHAHRIAR (Migration) [2018] AATA 4848 (12 October 2018)

      Client reviews


      Maram · April 15, 2019 at 6:58 pm

      i have applied and was granted an urgent hearing relating to my mothers refused tourist visa, this was about 3 weeks ago and still have not heard anything from the aat regarding a date. How long generally is the waiting time once i have been successful in applying for an urgent hearing?

        Peng Cheng · April 23, 2019 at 3:53 pm

        Hi Maram,
        I hope a decision has been made by now, but generally speaking a decision is made within a month for urgent matters.

          Maram · April 24, 2019 at 5:44 am

          Hi Peng. Thanks for your reply but I still haven’t heard anything

      Elda · April 11, 2019 at 11:17 pm


      I’ve applied for 187 through a registered migration agent and they notified me that the nomination of my position was refused. I can see the letter uploaded in my ImmiAccount but there aren’t any reason writen there. Is there a way I can obtain the letter with the reasons without asking my agent?
      They said we are going to AAT but I’m not sure if I can trust them and the reasons they gave me. Please tell me there’s a way to get that letter.

        Peng Cheng · April 15, 2019 at 1:49 pm

        Hi Elda,
        You can ask your agent for a document called a decision record, which explains why the application was refused. This document is also available through the online Immiaccount, if you have access to this.

          Elda · April 18, 2019 at 11:17 am

          I do have access to Immi Account but I can see only the letter which says it is not approved. I can’t seem to find the (detailed) decision letter.

            Peng Cheng · April 23, 2019 at 12:58 pm

            Please see Contact Us page and in relation to our Consultation Service – feel free to contact us if you need advice in relation to your visa options.

      Ana thia · April 4, 2019 at 7:56 am


      I applied for visa 485 and got refused because I forgot to add a police check. I have now done a police check and will add it during the review. What will be the processing time and will they accept me during the review since I know have the documentation?

        Peng Cheng · April 5, 2019 at 7:04 pm

        Hi Ana Thia,
        Unfortunately, you can’t rely on a police clearance obtained after lodgement because it is a time of application requirement.

          Jolene · April 16, 2019 at 5:27 pm

          Hi Peng,

          I am unfortunately going through the same problem as Ana. I’m wondering if you could give any further advise on it? Would a lodgement for appeal be worth it considering the case? I had an employee check that I was supposed to attach during application, but I’m hearing that it wouldn’t be sufficient at the time of lodgement either..

          Appreciate your help.

            Peng Cheng · April 23, 2019 at 3:53 pm

            Hi Jolene,
            What we said to Ana is correct – unfortunately you can’t rely on a police certificate received after lodgement.

      Kathy · April 1, 2019 at 8:20 pm

      Hi Peng,
      Thanks for your effort for all.
      I’ve refused subclass402 a while ago because of sponsorship problem(nomination) and I went AAT hearing last week. They said “affirm the case”. When I want to apply for new visa, do we have to do outside of Australia in case of mine?

        Peng Cheng · April 5, 2019 at 7:05 pm

        Hi Kathy,
        Please see post in relation to s48:

        shilpa · April 11, 2019 at 9:49 pm

        hi kathy
        can you please explain what was the exact reason for refusal because i have got the same nomination refusal for my 186 and after how many days you got hearing date of lodgement

      Hoa Tran · March 30, 2019 at 11:18 pm

      Hi! I am living in Vietnam. My subclass 300 visa was refused in September 2018. My fiance’ applied to appeal at AAT right after that. Is there any way so that our application be solved soon?
      We get married last month in Vietnam. I am 50 and my husband is 57 year old. We learn about eachother 3 years before decision marry. If We sent our certificate of marriage to AAT, will our application be solved sooner?

        Peng Cheng · April 5, 2019 at 7:07 pm

        Hi Hoa Tran,
        You would need to contact the AAT if you want priority processing. Sending a marriage certificate won’t affect processing time.

      hana · March 29, 2019 at 4:21 pm

      hi i’m waiting for my AAT hearing. can i apply for a travel leave. If yes what is the procedures.

        Peng Cheng · April 5, 2019 at 7:08 pm

        Hi Hana,
        If you have a Bridging Visa A you can apply for a Bridging Visa B.

      Mara · March 27, 2019 at 1:45 pm

      Hi there, I’m applying for TR graduate 485 visa and currently on bridging visa. I’m just worried what if I got refused because now I am also waiting for my 190 invitation. If I got rejected will I still have a chance to get new visa to lodge my 190 onshore “if ever” I will be rejected in 485 visa?

      Kim · March 20, 2019 at 7:51 pm

      Hi there,
      I got student visa refused since August 2017. I’ve just attended the hearing on early in March 2019. However my COE will end on 14 April 2019. I’m just wondering if I don’t get the AAT decision by the end of my course. What should I do? Can I still stay lawfully to wait for the AAT decision after I finish my course or I need to leave the country and how lond I can stay after my course complete?

        Peng Cheng · March 22, 2019 at 3:31 pm

        Hi Kim,

        If your student visa was refused the bridging visa would have ceased within either 28 or 35 days – the Department refusal correspondence would confirm this time frame.
        If you need assistance to manage your appeal please see Contact Us page and in relation to our Consultation Service – feel free to contact us if you need advice in relation to your appeal matter.


          Kim · March 24, 2019 at 12:05 pm

          Thanks for your respond. However, I have already attended the hearing. My question was if the AAT hasn’t made the decision but my COE has finished. can I stay lawfully just to wait for the decision without studying as my course will be finishing on 14 April 2019?

          P.s I have provided my current COE during the hearing time.

            Peng Cheng · March 29, 2019 at 12:27 pm

            can I stay lawfully just to wait for the decision without studying as my course will be finishing on 14 April 2019?
            Yes you can remain on your bridging visa for the tribunal’s decision.

      Chander deep · March 20, 2019 at 5:05 pm

      Hi i applied for AAT last year in march as my student visa got cancelled and today i called AAT they said my case is under review after that i called home affairs just to know whats my current visa status and they told me i dont hold any bridging while my case is still with AAT what does that mean as home affairs clearly told me i am unlawfully living in australia with out having any bridging visa
      Can you please help me to find out what options do i have if i am not having any visas aftr aat

        Peng Cheng · March 22, 2019 at 3:31 pm

        Hi Chander,
        You might be able to apply for a Bridging Visa E. Please see Contact Us page and in relation to our Consultation Service – feel free to contact us if you need advice in relation to your visa options.

      shilpa · March 17, 2019 at 12:17 am

      hi Penu Chang
      Actually i need your advice.My 186 nomination and visa application was refused last year due to training benchmarks issue.Dibp said it was refused because it was not paid on recent SBS approval.So now it is with AAT is there any chance for positive outcome according to you

        Peng Cheng · March 19, 2019 at 11:50 am

        Hi Shilpa,
        The Tribunal will assess and decide whether the business meets the training requirement. I would need to take a look at the business information to provide a proper assessment. Please see Contact Us page and in relation to our Consultation Service – feel free to contact us if you need advice about your appeal matter.

      Steph · March 16, 2019 at 12:04 am

      Hi Peng,

      My partner has granted a Temporary-Partner Visa but being refused when we applied Permanent-Partner Visa, so we decided to file a review to AAT. While waiting for the hearing schedule, my partner traveled overseas without knowing that he has to apply for visa to travel. He couldn’t go back here in Australia as he has no valid visa. What we should do, or what visa we need to apply for him to return here.

      Thanks sooo much.


        Peng Cheng · March 19, 2019 at 11:50 am

        Hi Steph,
        Sorry but to properly respond to your queries, I’d need to ask some questions and get some information from you.
        Please see Contact Us page and in relation to our Consultation Service – feel free to contact us if you need advice in relation to your partner’s visa options.

      Hong · March 15, 2019 at 8:43 am

      Hi I am now currently waiting for aat review at the moment I appeal on the December 2017 due to reject my student and I finishing my course next month can I apply temporary graduate visa subclass 485

        Peng Cheng · March 19, 2019 at 11:51 am

        Hi Hong,
        Unfortunately you won’t be eligible to apply for a 485 visa because you need to hold a student visa.

          Hong · March 25, 2019 at 8:25 pm

          Thanks for the info, how about lodging a tss visa offshore while I am under aat review and come back to wait for the tss result does section 48 bar me from doing that?

            Peng Cheng · March 29, 2019 at 12:28 pm

            Please see Contact Us page and in relation to our Consultation Service – feel free to contact us if you need advice in relation to your visa options.

      Lionel. · March 9, 2019 at 2:22 pm

      Hi Sam.
      My situation is that my partner came here on a tourist visa. We married in May 2016 and applied for her 820 visa online. After 2 years of waiting the department wanted more information due to me having already sponsored 2 application previously. We put in submission seeking a waiver to allow my sponsorship. They then refused her application so we lodged an AAT appeal to review the decision. Since then the relationship broke down. I have withdrawn my sponsorship. Can she win at AAT?

        Peng Cheng · March 14, 2019 at 3:46 pm

        Hi Lionel,
        Unfortunately she can’t have a successful case without a sponsor.

      Sanio · March 7, 2019 at 4:11 pm

      My MRT was lodged in November 2017. I haven’t heard anything back from AAT. Do you have any information how long it will take to process it? My student visa was refused and now i am very close to finish my course (i.e 4 subjects left).

        Peng Cheng · March 14, 2019 at 4:07 pm

        Hi Sanio,
        You will probably have a hearing in the next 6 months or so.

      Zain · March 5, 2019 at 9:31 pm

      Hi peng,
      If someone has bridging visa c and his case is in AAT for review can get travel and unrestricted work rights.

        Peng Cheng · March 14, 2019 at 4:07 pm

        Hi Zain,
        You can’t travel but you can apply for work rights as a BVC holder.

      Rolette Stols · March 4, 2019 at 9:42 pm

      Just want to find out. If a visa application was refused due to the fact that the applicant stuggled to get the required english scores. And in the mean time he managed to get the scores needed. And it was send to you for review. Does the normal processing times apply or can the file be reviewed sooner?

        Peng Cheng · March 5, 2019 at 12:48 pm

        You would need to contact the tribunal if you are looking for an earlier hearing date.

      Sam · March 4, 2019 at 1:24 pm

      Hi Peng
      could you please advise (based on your experience) that how long will it take for the Department of Home Affairs to get back on a protection visa (866) application which was previously refused by DHA and later remitted to DHA by AAT after review?

        Peng Cheng · March 5, 2019 at 12:49 pm

        Hi Sam,
        Unfortunately the Tribunal processing times are no longer available on their website, but I believe that it generally takes over 12 months for a hearing to be scheduled.

          Sam · March 5, 2019 at 1:10 pm

          Hi Peng
          Thank you for your reply kindly.
          My question was about howling it will take for the dept home affairs to procees visa 886 after the tribunal hearing. Tribunal has advised that it had remitted the application in Dec 2018. Thanks.

            Peng Cheng · March 5, 2019 at 9:33 pm

            The Department can take a number of weeks/months to finalise an application after the tribunal’s decision.

      hina afzal · March 1, 2019 at 10:18 pm

      And just want to open my review asap .how i can be possible how it can open as prior your help will be highly appreciated bcz now we are in very hard time.thanks

        Peng Cheng · March 5, 2019 at 12:50 pm

        Hi Hina,
        You would need to contact the Tribunal if you want priority with your hearing date.

      hina afzal · March 1, 2019 at 10:16 pm

      Hi peng
      Actually we have applied for 186 visa which was full fill with all requirements but unfortunately our nomination sponsership cancelled just due to a silly mistake of our agent.and we have applied for review and its been 4 month .i know it took time but to be honest my wife is in that stress even i dont have words to explain before i was thinking may bi its just stress will bi ok soon but now its getting worse and worse and we have 2 year old daughter as well.

      Sherry · December 17, 2018 at 9:41 am

      Hi Peng,
      Currently I hold bridging visa C as I applied for 187 employer visa sponsorship and it got refused as employer shut his business doors. Can I apply for any other visa or just apply for AAT and wait for their decision.

        Peng Cheng · December 23, 2018 at 10:34 pm

        Hi Sherry,
        Unfortunately I can’t provide advice about your visa eligibility just based on your comment information.
        Please see Contact Us page and in relation to our Consultation Service – feel free to contact us if you need advice in relation to your visa options.

        Guru · March 20, 2019 at 3:01 pm

        Hi Sherry

        What option did you get in this situation.? What did you do as I have similar situation

      Comments are closed.