Visitor Visa Refusal and AAT Review Processing: Winning the AAT Without a Hearing

Published on July 8, 2024

Visitor Visa Refusal and AAT Review Processing: Winning the AAT Without a HearingAnalysis Summary

Kris, the founder and principal lawyer at Kris Ahn Lawyers and an Accredited Specialist Immigration Lawyer, concludes this case study with key takeaways for future reference.

Analysis Summary

Appeal Rights for Offshore Visitor Visas

There are no rights of merits review for offshore visitor visas. Simply, this means the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) do not allow for visas lodged offshore to appeal refused decisions.

The way around this for applicants intending to visit an Australian citizen or permanent resident relative (parent, spouse, de facto partner, child, brother or sister of the applicant) is for the relative to lodge an appeal with the AAT on the applicant’s behalf.

Visitor visas are being refused at an alarming rate; most decisions arbitrarily made. Today we discuss the strategy of dealing with a refused offshore visitor visa.

Processing Time at the AAT

Currently, the AAT’s processing time for the visitor visa refusal approximately 377 – 476 days. AAT publishes and updates the processing times on their website here: Migration and Refugee Division processing times

Case Information in Detail

The client presented with a refused visitor visa which they prepared and lodged themselves. The visa applicant had recently married an Australian citizen who was halfway through their first pregnancy.

Case Timeline

19 March 2024visitor visa applied
18 April 2024visitor visa refused
22 April 2024AAT applied
4 June 2024AAT decided in our favour
6 June 2024visitor visa granted

The purpose of the applicant’s visit was clear: they wanted to be in Australia for the birth of their child and plan for future visa applications that allowed the family to remain together.

The client was aware the visitor visa had high chances of being refused again. Even with strong supporting evidence, the trend of visitor visa refusals by case officers is well known and well publicised online. Far too often, the nature of refusals is unclear and have little to no basis in their claims.

Their main concerns were that the applicant would not be in Australia in time for the birth of their child. After hearing from our team that an appeal was possible with the AAT, their immediate thoughts were that the processing times was much too long, and it could be a year or more before the family could be reunited.

This is where our experienced team stepped in. By applying strategy and strong legal submissions, our clients received a postive response from the AAT and subsequently their approved visa in a fraction of the time.

AAT Decision and Lessons

Upon assessing the matter, our team at Kris Ahn Lawyers recognised the opportunity to apply for the visa a second time with improved supporting documentation. The primary aim was to obtain a grant, however, our experience called upon strategising ahead for another refusal. In the event of a refused decision, we planned for the Australian partner to lodge an appeal based on unfair decision making by the Department of Home Affairs.

This type of tactical planning is how we think one step ahead, never relying on one pathway. This allows for us to approach a visa application strategically so we’re able to obtain the best possible outcome for our clients. We rely on our knowledge, experience and deep understanding of immigration law to apply these strategies.

As expected, and despite our best efforts, the second tourist visa was refused again for the same arbitrary and unfair reasons. With our client’s instructions, we promptly prepared and lodged an appeal with the AAT.

We were able to present to the AAT clear reasons as to why our client’s visa should not have been refused and requested a decision with a hearing. The AAT in turn, recognised their genuine appeal application and in just seven (7) weeks, the AAT ruled in favour of our client without a hearing per our request.

AAT,  APPEAL TRIBUNAL. Visitor Visa Refusal and AAT Review Processing: Winning the AAT Without a HearingAnalysis Summary

This achievement is a significant win for our clients for whom the success minimises stress, and in this instance, the most important factor being time. The AAT referred the matter back to the Department of Home Affairs, from which point their visitor visa was granted in two (2) days.

While we share our client’s joy, this outcome demonstrates yet again the visitor visa prepared and lodged by our team did indeed satisfy the requirements for a successful visitor visa had the case officer conducted a thorough assessment.

Our team at Kris Ahn Lawyers remain attentive to legislation and the ever-evolving landscape of immigration to achieve for our clients the best possible outcomes.

Disclaimer: Not Legal Advice

The information provided in this blog post/article is for general informational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice or create a representative-client relationship. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, the content may not reflect the most current legal developments or specific circumstances.

Do not rely solely on the information presented here – but please book in a consultation with us to see how you this information applies to you and may benefit you. Any reliance on the material in this post is at your own risk.

Australian immigration law is arguably one of the most complex laws in Australia. Seek professional legal advice tailored to your individual needs before making any decisions based on the content of this post.