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This factsheet contains information about how cases in the Migration and Refugee Division will be handled during the COVID-19 pandemic. It summarises key information in COVID-19 Special Measures Practice Direction – Migration and Review Division (the Practice Direction). You should refer to the Practice Direction for further information, particularly if you are a representative.

Changes to how we operate

  • We have changed the way we operate during the pandemic.
  • Our registries are closed to visitors other than in limited circumstances. We are providing our services by telephone and electronically.
  • We will not hold hearings in person other than in exceptional circumstances. Hearings will be conducted by telephone or videoconference. Any interpreter we arrange will generally participate by telephone.
  • We will give priority to cases that:
    1.  don’t need a hearing, or
    2.  can have a hearing by telephone or videoconference.

How to contact us and give us documents

  • Contact us by phone or email.
  • Lodge any new applications online.
  • If you already have an application with us, give us documents via:
    1. online application system (if you lodged your application as a registered user of that  system), or
    2. our online services portal (in any other case).

If you cannot send us documents using our online services, email them to us at mrdivision@aat.gov.au in accordance with guidelines on our website. Include your case number in the subject line. 

  • Only send us documents by post if they can’t be sent electronically. If you experience difficulty lodging documents electronically, contact us by telephone for assistance. If a document, CD, USB or other thing can only be lodged by delivering it to a Registry, telephone us to discuss how it can be lodged.
  • If you do not have access to technology to scan a document that requires a signature, including by taking a photo of it, the document may be signed electronically instead. This may be done by the person applying a digital signature or typing their name in the appropriate place in the document.

How to help us progress your case to hearing

  • If we write to you and ask you to do something, do what we ask as soon as possible and according to any timeframes in our letter.
  • Write to us if you think you meet the requirements for an expedited decision. See the Practice Direction (paragraph 5.4) for further information.
  • Write to us if you consent to not having a hearing. You should consider doing this if the sole purpose of your application is to seek Ministerial intervention. See the Practice Direction (paragraph 5.6) for further information.

Note:     

If we think your hearing should be held in person rather than by telephone or video, we will not be able have a hearing in your case until we resume holding hearings in person.

Nomination and sponsorship cases

  • If you are an employer who has applied for review of a decision about the nomination or sponsorship of an activity, occupation, position or person and:

You should notify us of this in writing as soon as possible.

  • If you have already given, commented on or responded to information or appeared before the Tribunal at a hearing and your circumstances have materially changed, you should notify us in writing of your changed circumstances as soon as possible.

Partner visa cases

  • If you have applied for review of a decision to refuse to grant a partner visa, you should consider carefully the nature and volume of evidence you lodge with us about your circumstances.

Example:  

You may want to lodge a sample of certain types of evidence about your relationship such as joint financial documents, letters or photographs.

  • If you lodge a sample of supporting material, you must:
    1. notify us in writing that you have additional evidence that you can lodge;and
    2. include a brief description of the nature of the additional evidence.

Protection visa cases

  • If you have applied for review of a decision about a protection visa and you want the Tribunal to have regard to particular information about the situation in the country of origin relevant to the application (country information), you must:
    1. lodge a copy of that country information with the AAT;
    2. explain in your written submissions or otherwise which parts of the information you rely on and why it is relevant to your review.

Note:        

 You should not simply give the AAT a list of documents or a list of links to publicly available country information. 

Student visa cases

  • If you have applied for a review of a decision to refuse to grant a student visa, you must lodge with the AAT prior to the hearing:
    1. evidence of enrolment in an approved course; or
    2. if you have been unable to enrol in an approved course, a statement setting out a detailed explanation of your attempts to obtain enrolment.

What you must do if we invite you to a hearing

  • Carefully follow the instructions in our letter inviting you to the hearing. Complete the form attached to the letter and return it to us as quickly as possible and no later than seven days after you receive it.
  • Let us know in this form if you believe that you or another person will experience difficulty participating in the hearing by telephone or videoconference and explain why. Assume that the hearing will proceed as planned unless we tell you otherwise.
  • If you haven’t done so already, provide us with a written statement by you and any other witness setting out the evidence you or the witness will give at the hearing. See the Practice Direction (paragraph 6.7) for further information.
  • Give us all documents you want the Tribunal to consider at least seven days before the hearing. If documents are lodged less than seven days before the hearing, explain in writing why the documents are late when you send them to us.
  • Be available for the hearing on your nominated phone number (if you have been invited to a telephone hearing) or in front of your computer (if you have been invited to a videoconference hearing) at the time of your hearing. Contact us immediately if you are prevented from participating in your hearing at the scheduled time, including due to issues with technology. You must do all you can to participate in the telephone or videoconference hearing.
  • Have in front of you during the hearing all the documents you have given us and that we have given to you.
  • If you want us to postpone your hearing, you must let us know in writing as soon as possible and include supporting evidence. If you need a postponement for medical reasons, you must give us evidence from a medical practitioner. If you have not been notified that your hearing has been postponed, then you must appear at the hearing at the scheduled time. See the Practice Direction (paragraph 6.16) for further information.

This fact sheet provides general information only. It is not legal advice about your case. If you have a question about the law or how it applies to your case, you should seek legal advice.

If you have any feedback about this new factsheet, please contact the AAT’s Legal and Policy Section at LPExtFeedback@aat.gov.au.