Who can review Department of Immigration and Citizenship decisions?

Publish Date: Oct 01, 2013

Visa applicants who have had a decision go against them from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (the Department), have the following bodies where they can turn to for a review: the Migration Review Tribunal (MRT), the Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT) or the Administration Appeals Tribunal (AAT).

The Migration Review Tribunal

Applicants who have received an unfavourable decision from the Department may have available to them the right of merits review to the MRT. A review fee must be paid, which at the time of writing stands at $1604 (October 2013). However, if an applicant is able to demonstrate that the full payment has caused, or is likely to cause severe financial hardship to the satisfaction of the Registrar, Deputy Registrar or an authorised tribunal officer, the fee may be reduced by 50%. Although, there are no fees associated with a bridging visa.

There are strict time limits for a review application which will be dependent on the type of visa that has been refused, and the whereabouts of the applicant.

Upon the lodging of an application, the Department will notify the applicant about the time limitations, as well as the person’s rights in relation to the review process.

The Refugee Review Tribunal

In instances where a protection visa has not been granted, or a protection visa is cancelled by the Department, the RRT may review the decision unless the matter involves a specific provision relating to the Refugee Convention.  Additionally, the RRT does not have the jurisdiction to review decisions made overseas in relation to refugee or humanitarian visa applications.

A person wishing to make an application for review has 28 days from notification of the decision to make an application for review on the proviso that the applicant is in the community, and not in a detention centre.

What is meant by notification?

If the decision by the Department is personally handed to a person, they are for the most part considered to have been notified. However, if the decision was posted, then it is possible for an additional seven working days to be added to the date of the letter, along with the period for an application to be made for review.

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal

There are a number of grounds in which the AAT will review a decision, including:

  • refusal or cancellation of a visa on character grounds;
  • deportation of a person under the criminal deportation provisions;
  • matters concerning citizenship;
  • matters concerning freedom of information legislation.

Like other appeals processes, applications made to the AAT must be made within a certain time period, and only under exceptional circumstances will an extension of an application be granted.

Other review bodies

The Minister for Immigration is able to make a decision if the person has already made an application to a review tribunal previously. Additionally, the Commonwealth Ombudsman may be able to examine instances of bad administration in relation to immigration matters. 

The Federal Magistrates’ Court, the Federal Court, or the High Court can review decisions in the event of a jurisdictional error.

Finally, the Australian Human Rights Commission can look into a matter that involves an issue relating to human rights.

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