Has your Australian visa been cancelled or have you received a visa cancellation notice?
#1 What Is Visa Cancellation?
This means that a departmental officer (or Minister for Immigration personally) has decided to cancel a visa which the Department of Immigration (DIBP) has previously granted.
A decision to cancel a visa will usually result in the cancellation of other visas you may have been granted – for example a bridging visa. Visa cancellations also typically extend to all family members holding that visa.
In some cases, a cancellation can also result in the automatic refusal of other visa applications that you have lodged but which have not yet been decided by Immigration.
#2 Can Visa Cancellation Decisions Be Reviewed or Revoked?
Once a decision is made to cancel a visa, the visa holder will usually be advised about the visa cancellation decision in writing.
The decision maker usually has no power to revisit the visa cancellation decision, even if they have made a mistake.
In some cases the Rules allow an application for “revocation” of the visa cancellation to be made. In most cases, you will have to make any application for review.
In some serious cases, an application for merits review is not possible and you’ll need to seek judicial review before a Federal Court judge.
Merits review (if that is open to you) involves the making of an urgent application for review of the visa cancellation decision. The application is to be made within 21 days to the AAT (Administrative Review Tribunal). (Previously these tribunals were called the “MRT” and the “RRT”).
Sometimes, you may not have any right to make any application for review to the AAT. For example, an offshore independent visa granted to someone overseas may be cancelled before they enter Australia. A visa cancellation in this circumstance will not usually have any right of appeal.
If the cancellation is a “personal” exercise of power by a Minister, then you have very limited review rights, usually only to the Federal Court of Australia, if at all.
Most visa cancellation review applications following recently cancelled visas are now dealt with by the AAT (previously MRT and RRT). Only a small number of cases justify and result in appeals to the Federal Court of Australia.
#3 What Are The Critical Deadlines?
Very strict time limits apply to lodge any valid application for review after a visa is cancelled. If you miss any deadline, it is often fatal for the visa holder – and you may have lost your right of review forever.
In the case on Mas Eden in July 2015, and in the case of Clarel Amoorthum in 2016, I was able to get an extension of time, as both these applications were lodged after 35 days of the decision to cancel their respective visas -but getting an extension of time is not always possible.
After lodgement of a valid application you may be entitled to a bridging visa allowing you to remain in Australia until the application for review of the visa cancellation decision is finalised.
In my experience, the Rules relating to bridging visas are often misinterpreted by inexperienced visa applicants and their advisors.
Applications for review of a visa cancellation decision to the AAT usually attract a fee upon lodgement of the application (refugee cases can be an exception). AAT fees for applications for review a decision to cancel a visa are currently A$1,673 (As at October 2016).
Half of the fees paid to the AAT when making any review application will typically be refunded to you if your application for review of the visa cancellation decision is successful.
If you use an Immigration Lawyer (like me) or a Registered Australian Migration Agent (we are also registered agents), additional fees are payable to these advisors.
The amount of these immigration costs will depend on the level of skill of the immigration specialist you choose, the complexity of the applications made, the urgency of the application, and in particular, whether the application is made by way of merits review in the AAT or by way of judicial review the Federal Court of Australia.
Call me to discuss what is possible in terms of your visa cancellation issue.