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Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT)

Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT)

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Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT)

The Administrative Appeal Tribunal (AAT) is an independent body that has the power to review the original decision made by the Department of Home Affairs and determine whether the decision was correct.

What sort of visa appeals go to the AAT?

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) has two main divisions that affect migration matters:

  1. The Migration and Refugee Division – This division is responsible for reviewing most visa refusal decisions made by the Department of Home Affairs

  2. The General Division – This division is responsible for reviewing most character-related visa decisions or citizenship refusals

The AAT has jurisdiction to review a limited number of decisions relating to visas such as:

  • a decision to refuse/cancel different types of visas

  • to refuse or approve a nomination of an occupation, activity or person

  • to bar, refuse to approve or cancel the approval of a sponsor

  • a decision to refuse a visa on character grounds

Not all decisions are reviewable.

Time Limits

The time limit for applying for a review is very strict. The time limit to lodge an application for a review varies depending on the type of decision and whether you are in immigration detention. The AAT has no power to extend the time limit to lodge an application for a review.


The application for having a visa decision reviewed by the AAT is $3,374. The application fee can be reduced by 50% if the AAT decide that paying the fee would cause the applicant severe financial hardship. The fee must be paid before the deadline for lodging the application.

If the review is decided in your favour then the AAT will refund 50% of the application fee that was paid.

What decisions can the AAT make?

The AAT usually makes a decision after conducting a hearing. It can affirm, vary, set aside or remit the decision made by the Department of Home Affairs.

  • Affirm - if the AAT affirms the decision, it means the decision made by the Department of Home Affairs has not changed.

  • Varies - if the AAT varies a decision, it means the decision made by the Department of Home Affairs is changed or altered in some way.

  • Set Aside - if the AAT sets aside a decision, it means the AAT agrees or partially agrees that the original decision made by the Department of Home Affairs was wrong.

  • Remits - if the AAT remits a decision, it means it sends the matter back to the Department of Home Affairs to make a new decision in accordance with the AAT’s instructions or recommendations. This means you have won the appeal.

Time Frame of the AAT

The processing time after an AAT application is lodged can take a few months to a few years depending on the type of decision under review. See the following link for the most up to date processing times.

Once an AAT member is assigned to the case, there will generally be a request for additional and up-to-date documents to be provided in support of the case.

Update to the AAT

The Australian Government has annouced its intention to introduce legislation to abolish the Administrative Appeal Tribunal and replace it with a new body called the Administrative Review Tribunal. All cases currently before the AAT will continue.

All decisions made by the AAT will remain valid and final. Once the new body is established, any remaining cases will transition to the new body. If you have applied to the AAT for review of a decision and your case is transitioned to the new body, you will not need to submit a new application for review to the body.

Contact Us

Canberra Visa & Migration Services has significant experience dealing with AAT matters. If you need any assistance, please contact our office to discuss your options.

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Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT)

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