The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT)

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) conducts independent reviews of administrative decisions made under Commonwealth laws. The AAT reviews decisions made by Australian Government ministers, departments and agencies prior to them going to Court. 

The AAT commenced operations in July 1976. In July 2015 the AAT amalgamated with the Migration Review Tribunal, Refugee Review Tribunal and Social Security Appeals Tribunal. The Administrative Appeals Tribunal falls under the portfolio of the Attorney General.

What can the Administrative Appeals Tribunal review?
The AAT can only review a decision if a law states that the decision can be reviewed by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. They can review decisions made under more than 400 Commonwealth Acts and legislative instruments.

The most common types of decisions the AAT reviews relate to:
–          Child support
–          Commonwealth workers compensation
–          Family assistance, paid parental leave, social security and student assistance
–          Migration and refugee visas, and visa related decisions
–          Taxation
–          Veteran’s entitlements 

They can also review decisions relating to:
–          Australian citizenship
–          Bankruptcy
–          Civil aviation
–          Customs
–          Corporations and financial services regulation
–          National Disability Insurance Scheme
–          Passports
–          Security assessments by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation 

Decision Reviews
Each decision is reviewed based on its merits and previous decisions are not taken into account. The AAT will take a fresh look at the case and the relevant facts, law and policy involved and arrive at their own decision. They must make the legally correct decision or where more than one decision is considered correct, the most preferable decision. 

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal has the power to:
–          Uphold a decision
–          Vary a decision
–          Set aside a decision and substitute a new decision when the AAT agrees or partially agrees that the original decision was wrong
–          Send the matter back to the decision maker to make a new decision in accordance with the AAT’s instructions or recommendations

The AAT aims to provide a review process that is accessible, fair and just while being economical, informal and quick.

The Process
In relation to migration, an applicant has the right to appeal the decision if their decision letter states this. The review process can vary from case to case. Appeals must be made within the timeframe stated in the decision letter. 

Part 1 – Submission
In order to apply for a review, an applicant must complete and lodge an ‘Application for Review’ form along with the application fee. All supporting documentation should be included. The AAT will send an acknowledgement letter to confirm receipt of the application. The Department of Home Affairs will also be informed and a request for all the relevant documentation pertaining to the case will be made.

The case will be allocated to a member who will review the case and all the documents. During this time the applicant should also prepare themselves for the hearing by ensuring they understand why they received the decision they did and preparing any information that may be of help during the hearing.

Part 2 – The Hearing
Applicants will be invited to attend a hearing to provide information or to comment or respond to information regarding the case. Applicants may choose to be represented by an immigration lawyer or registered migration agent.

In some instances, the decision may be announced at the end of the hearing. In most cases, the member will not announce the decision at the end of the hearing and will send the applicant and the Department of Home Affairs a written statement of the decision and the reasons behind it.

In certain circumstances, it may not be necessary for a hearing to be conducted. The AAT may make a decision without a hearing if:
–          They decide they have no jurisdiction to review the decision
–          The case can be decided in the applicant’s favour based on the information they have
–          The applicant doesn’t respond to a request for information or comments by the deadline set by the AAT
–          The applicant agrees to the AAT deciding the review without appearing at a hearing 

How long will it take for a decision to be made?
As each case is different, processing times can vary. A decision can take up to two years.

The cost of appealing a decision is $1,826. The application fee may be reduced by 50% if the AAT decides that the fee may cause financial hardship for the applicant.

When preparing to appeal a decision in relation to a migration matter, it is recommended you seek the assistance of a registered migration agent such as Visa Solutions Australia.

If you would like to learn more about the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in relation to migration or any other aspect of migration, contact Visa Solutions Australia on 1800 828 008.