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AAT Review

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) conducts independent merits review of administrative decisions made under Commonwealth laws.  



The AAT reviews a decision “on the merits”. This means that AAT take a fresh look at the facts, law and policy relating to the decision and arrive at our own decision. The AAT must make the legally correct decision or, where there can be more than one correct decision, the preferable decision.


The AAT has the power to:

  • affirm a decision
  • vary a decision
  • set aside a decision and substitute a new decision, or
  • remit a decision to the decision-maker for reconsideration.


AAT aim to provide a review process that:

  • is accessible,
  • is fair, just, economical, informal and quick,
  • is proportionate to the importance and complexity of the matter, and
  • promotes public trust and confidence in the decision-making of the Tribunal.


The review process varies depending on the type of decision AAT are reviewing.


What is a merits review?

Merits review is an administrative reconsideration of a case. A merits review body makes decisions within the same legislative framework as the primary decision maker, and may exercise all the powers and discretions conferred on the primary decision maker.
We have the power under the Migration Act 1958 to:

  • affirm (not change) the primary decision
  • vary the primary decision
  • set aside the primary decision and substitute a new decision
  • remit (return) a matter to Department of Immigration and Border Protection


How do I lodge my application?

 Applications for review can be lodged:

  • online
  • by hand, post or fax


What happens after I lodge my application?

After receiving an application for review, AAT will send you an acknowledgement letter and request files and documents relating to the decision under review from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection or the Department of Home Affairs.

AAT will assess the validity of the application. AAT can only review a decision if a valid application for review has been made. AAT will advise you if it appears that the application is not valid.


How long will the process take?

The time taken by the Migration and Refugee division to make a decision on your case will depend on a range of factors including:

  • the type of case
  • when your case is given to a division Member to conduct the review.


The table is a guide only and does not guarantee that any individual matter will be heard in these timeframes.

  Processing times for decisions made between 1/07/17 and 31/12/17
  Calendar days from lodgement to decision
Case category Decisions Within 365 days Average Median
Bridging 182 100% 23 9
Visitor 530 99% 161 162
Student refusal 1130 42% 385 399
Temporary work 588 61% 329 306
Permanent business 273 68% 276 214
Skill linked 249 85% 201 154
Partner 1330 59% 354 349
Family 187 51% 360 364
Student cancellation 213 64% 281 334
Nomination/Sponsor approval 510 38% 431 457
Protection 2696 70% 256 171
Other 89 96% 108 64
By Migration/Refugee case type        
Migration 5281 61% 316 322
Refugee 2696 70% 256 171
Total 7977 64% 296 283


When a decision is made

If AAT affirm the decision under review we have decided that the decision under review should not be changed. The effect of this is that the decision remains in force.

If AAT set aside the decision under review, we have decided that the decision should be changed. AAT may replace (substitute) the decision with a new decision.

If AAT remit the decision under review, we have decided that the decision should be reconsidered. The effect of this is that the department is required to reconsider the application having regard to any directions made by AAT.

If AAT decide that we have no jurisdiction to review the decision, AAT have decided that we have no power to review the delegate’s decision.


If you are going to apply a review through AAT, please talk to our professional migration consultants today!