If your visa application was refused or cancelled you are probably doing some research to see how you can turn around your case. You may have realised that one option is to file an application with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (“AAT”) and another option is to lodge an appeal with the Federal Circuit Court. But which one of these should you choose? Is one better than the other? What are the advantages and disadvantages of both?
Start with the AAT
in most cases (assuming we’re talking about an onshore application) the first step is to go through the AAT appeals process. In other words, you may not have a right to lodge an appeal with the Federal Circuit Court until you have gone through and AAT appeal. So don’t think about the AAT and the Federal Court as 2 available alternatives of which you can choose one. Usually you have to start with the AAT and then proceed to the Federal Court in some limited circumstances when sufficient grounds exist.
Prospects of success in AAT
Some recent statistics show that the AAT overturns about 39% of all decisions referred to it by Vvisa applicants. What this means is that the AAT considers each review application in detail, and if the Department made a mistake, in many cases that mistake can be corrected in the AAT proceeding.
This also means you need not necessarily consider appealing to the Federal Circuit Court as a successful outcome can be achieved in the AAT process.
It also means you should take the AAT process seriously. If your claim has merits, and if you prepare it thoroughly and professionally, there is actually a good chance that the claim will succeed.
Your own legal costs
if you engage an immigration lawyer, such as us, to prepare your AAT appeal, you will obviously be responsible for your own legal fees. However, this need not cost an arm and a leg. Also, because the AAT process can take a year, you may be able to negotiate beneficial payment terms, for example that you make an initial down payment, and then pay the balance over a period.
In other words, professional help can be affordable.
Legal costs in the Federal Court
By contrast, your legal costs in the Federal Court would be much higher. It is a very complex court process, which requires significantly more work and preparation.
Don’t forget, if you lose in the Federal Court, you will be responsible not only for your own legal costs, but also for the costs incurred by the Department of Home Affairs in opposing the application. If you can’t pay those costs, you will not be able to apply for a new visa unless and until you repaid the Commonwealth. This is another reason why it’s important to have professional representation in the Federal Court, should your case need to be taken to that level.