AAT & Judicial Review


If you apply for a visa in Australia and it is refused by the government, you may be able to review the decision at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).

The AAT conducts reviews of most visa refusal decisions, on the merits.  This means that the AAT reconsiders all aspects of the visa application, including the facts and the law, and decides whether to set aside the decision to refuse the visa and allow the visa to be granted instead.

The first step in the process is to quickly apply to the AAT to review the decision to refuse the visa.  The number of days you have from the refusal decision to commence the case in the AAT depends on the reason the government refused the visa application.  You should contact us promptly after being informed that your visa has been refused so we can advise you as to whether you have any grounds to review the decision at the AAT, what your prospects of success are and how many days you have to lodge the review.

Once the case is started, time frames vary as to when you will get a final hearing based on things such as the reason for the visa refusal and whether you are in immigration detention.

The success of your case can depend on the preparation for it, including ensuring all relevant material is given to the AAT decision maker and in an organised manner, and the quality of written submissions filed with the AAT before your hearing.  We take pride in the preparation process. 

Judicial review

If you fail at the AAT, you may be able to review the decision in the Federal Circuit Court or the Federal Court of Australia, depending on the decision being reviewed.

Appeals to either Court are not a merits review.  These appeals are called judicial review.  This is because you can only appeal to a Court on a question of law.  The AAT needed to have made a legal error in making its decision on the merits.

As with applying to the AAT, timing is important.  You should contact us quickly after your failed AAT hearing so we can advise you whether you have grounds of review, whether you should arguably succeed on them and the date by which the relevant documents need to be filed to start the case.

When starting a case in either Court, more work is involved than the relatively simple form required at the AAT, so time needs to be allowed for this.

Similarly to the AAT, it is difficult to guess how long it will take to get a hearing date.  There are several documents to be prepared for the hearing, the quality of which can influence the final decision.  It is advisable to be legally represented In the Federal Circuit Court or the Federal Court.

Whilst awaiting an AAT hearing, or a Federal Circuit Court or Federal Court hearing, you should be a lawful non-citizen, often by holding a bridging visa.