Visa refused? How to self-represent in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT)

How will the AAT approach my case?

The AAT was established to review decisions made by government departments including decisions by the Department of Home Affairs in relation to visa applications. The Tribunal’s jurisdictional ‘style’ is unique and differs from law Courts. In fact, the Tribunal has been largely established to allow for streamlining cases in a cost-effective manner, which means parties can also self-represent if necessary.

If you are planning to self-represent in the Tribunal in relation to a visa refusal, you will – naturally – be asking the Tribunal to make a decision in your favour, therefore, preparation is critical.

How to prepare

Following your application to the Tribunal for Review, you will be invited to the hearing (generally 2-4 weeks in advance). This process requires that you provide the Tribunal with all of the information that you would like to be considered as part of the review process. It is important that you prepare in advance and don’t leave this to the last minute, for obvious reasons.

Generally, you should only provide the Tribunal with new information which you have not previously given to the Department of Home Affairs. If you do not know what information is on your immigration file, you can complete form M16 “Request for access to written material under Section 362A”. The staff at the Tribunal can often respond to this type of requests at short notice. Making a 362A request is often the most helpful step in preparing for your hearing.

Other useful tips

If your visa application was refused because you provided false or misleading information, or bogus (false) documents, you may ask the Tribunal to provide in writing any information that might form the reason to refuse your case. The Tribunal has the power to give you this type of information in writing or orally at the hearing. If that information is given to you for the first time at the hearing, you should request additional time to respond or request another hearing.

The Hearing

Review hearings in the Migration division are open to the public and will be recorded. You are able to take along a support person if you wish. Just keep in mind that if you want that support person to give evidence, they will most likely be asked to wait outside.

The Tribunal Member, (the person who will hear your review application) will spend some time explaining their role and what information they expect from you. The Member’s job is to provide you with an opportunity to give them further evidence about your case. They are also required to explore the reasons that led to the refusal of the visa. The Tribunal will not normally offer you a further opportunity to provide evidence, so be sure to tell them everything you believe should be considered.

Section 351 Ministerial Intervention

Even in circumstances where the Tribunal cannot make a favourable decision in your case, the Tribunal is able to refer your case to the Minister. The Minister has the ability to intervene in a case where there are compelling and compassionate reasons for doing so. If you want the Tribunal to consider this request, you should provide them with all the documentary evidence of your circumstances.

Our assistance

Our solicitors are highly experienced in Tribunal review proceedings. We are more than happy to have a chat with you to discuss whether we can be of assistance, even it is at short notice. Contact us on 0472 592 329 or at to discuss your matter.

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