You have applied to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of the visa decision. You have paid the $1,800+ review fee. But how do you give yourself the best chance to succeed? We have summarised 5 mistakes which you should avoid.
Mistake #1 – Assume that your case won’t come up for review for 1+year
At the time of writing this article, the average time for the AAT to make a decision can be over 1 year. But: this depends on the type of review, the registry in which the application was filed, and a range of other things.
You should never assume that you have a long time period between lodging your appeal and the hearing. We have seen many cases where the applicant left preparation for too late. If you are invited for a hearing on short notice and you haven’t prepared, you may have lost the case even before the hearing starts!
As soon as you lodge your appeal, start your preparation for the hearing. This includes collecting evidence, thinking about who you will call as witness, thinking about your submissions and so on.
Mistake #2 – Assume the Tribunal will believe you without supporting evidence
Understand this: the Tribunal will closely scrutinise whatever you say. Whenever possible, you should have documentary evidence to support your story. Say for example that you have a student visa which was cancelled because you didn’t attend classes. If you say you were sick, you should have medical records to prove this. Otherwise, the Tribunal won’t believe you.
Always think about what documentary evidence you need to support your version of events.
Mistake #3 – Not preparing written submissions
Many applicants simply show up to the hearing without giving the Tribunal a week before the hearing a written summary of their story. This is a mistake. The Tribunal hearing is your opportunity to put your story forward. If you outline your story in writing and give it to the Tribunal a week before your hearing, you will help the Tribunal member who decides your case. So why not take advantage of this great opportunity?
Always draft written submissions and give it to the Tribunal a week before your hearing.
Mistake #4 – Assuming the Tribunal will help you find the information that helps you
The Tribunal is not there to help “build your case” for you. It’s your job to make sure that you put forward all information that assists you. If you forget to say something, you can’t blame the Tribunal later on the basis that they didn’t ask you. Of course, several very experienced Tribunal members will have come across cases similar to yours and they will ask you questions that will prompt you to address issues that help you. But there is no guarantee that this will happen, so make sure you know what you need say, and that you don’t forget it.
Always have detailed notes in advance of all the points that you want to raise during the hearing.
Mistake #5 – Not hiring a lawyer until just before the hearing
Often times when people don’t hire a lawyer until they receive their invitation for the hearing. There are several problems with this. Most importantly, your lawyer can’t buy you more time. So your lawyer will quickly identify, for example, that you need more evidence, but some evidence (for example medical records) take time to obtain. Also, if you hire a lawyer early, you might be able to spread the legal fees over a longer period.
If you are serious about your appeal and know that you will hire a lawyer, do it as early as possible.