If you choose to handle your AAT appeal yourself (never advisable) there are many things to keep in mind but you should always remember to never lose sight of these two very important points: have a good look at your original visa application to see if there are any issues which you missed but which you can now include in your appeal. Secondly, always obtain the departmental file in relation to your application.
A fresh look at your case
When you file an appeal with the AAT, keep in mind that the AAT takes a fresh look at your case. They will consider if you satisfy the applicable visa criteria. Most visas have a number of different requirements that you need to satisfy. So when you lodge the appeal, it is a good opportunity for you to critically evaluate your original visa application, to see if there are any points which you should have made when you first lodged your visa application, because if you missed anything important, this is your opportunity to rectify the situation as part of your appeal.
To illustrate the importance of this point, consider this example. When it comes to partner visa applications, one of the issues which the departmental case officer will consider is the degree of commitment, companionship and support which partners give each other. This is an area which is relatively easy to overlook in the original visa application, because it is difficult to describe your nature and commitment to each other in words. As a result, when a negative decision is made, the case officer may say that the visa application did not contain evidence about the nature of commitment to each other.
Take a moment to see whether there are any specific examples you could point to which show commitment. For example, did any of you suffer from any injuries or illnesses where the other person needed to provide continuous care and support? If so, make sure you state this in your appeal and give evidence. Did any of you have financial difficulties, for example due to being made redundant? Did your partner provide financial support during this difficult time? If so don’t forget to mention this in your appeal.
There are many more examples, but the point is make sure you check your original application, and if you did not address any of the visa criteria, then do so now.
Obtain the departmental file
As you lodge the appeal, you may request the department to provide you copies of all documents which you originally submitted with your visa application. This is important because you want to make sure that when you appeal, you do not say anything which is inconsistent with your original visa application.
Just as importantly, it may be that once you obtaine the file, you realise that the Department made errors when they evaluated your case. They may have overlooked evidence especially if the application material was voluminous.
If you realise that the department has made any errors while they processed your application, then this is an opportunity for you to specify what errors were made, because it will strengthen your appeal.
These are just too practical examples of steps which you should take if you handle your AAT appeal yourself. However, there are many more things to consider, and if you require any assistance, do not hesitate to get in touch with us either by phone or email and we will be happy to assist.