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. 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 granted visas. This includes for example a bridging visa. Visa cancellations also typically extend to all family members holding that visa.
As a result, the DIBP may refuse all undecided visa applications that you have lodged.
#2 Can Visa Cancellation Decisions Be Reviewed or Revoked?
If the DIBP cancels your visa, they will normally advise you of the 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 may allow you to make an application for “revocation” of the visa cancellation . In most cases, you will have to make any application for review.
Although, in 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. You should make the application within 21 days to the AAT (Administrative Review Tribunal). (Previously, the tribunals were “MRT” and the “RRT”).
Sometimes, you may not have any right to make any application for review to the AAT. For example, the DIBP may cancel an offshore independent visa granted to someone overseas 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.
The AAT now deals with most visa cancellation review applications following recently cancelled visas. 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. You may lose your right of review forever if you miss any deadline.
In the case of Mas Eden in July 2015, and in the case of Clarel Amoorthum in 2016, I was able to get an extension of time. But getting an extension of time is not always possible.
Lodging a valid application may allow you to remain in Australia on a bridging visa. That is until the application for review of the visa cancellation decision is finalised.
In my experience, inexperienced visa applicants and their advisors often misinterpret the Rules relating to bridging visas.
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).
If your application for review of the visa cancellation decision is successful, the AAT will typically refund you half of the fees.
Additional fees may be payable if you use an Immigration Lawyer or a Registered Australian Migration Agent.
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.