• IMPORTANT NEWS – Community Support Programme opens 1 July 2017

    The Australian Government has announced the establishment of a Community Support Programme (CSP) from 1 July 2017. The CSP will enable communities and businesses, as well as families and individuals, to propose humanitarian visa applicants and support new humanitarian arrivals in their settlement journey. This i...

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  • Another successful Federal Circuit Court Appeal

    GMH Legal recently succeeded in an immigration law appeal before the Federal Circuit Court. The case involved an appeal of a student visa cancellation, which was eventually found to be affected by jurisdictional error in the decision of preceding Tribunal. Facts Our client was an international student enrolle...

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  • Australia is proposing lifetime ban for boat asylum seekers to Australia

    Immigration Minister Peter Dutton described the plan as one of the government’s strongest moves, building on the success of its border protection policies over the past three years and that it sent a clear message that Australia was not an option. The Migration Act will be amended to ensure that asylum seekers...

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  • ICAO – Machine Readable Passports

    Palestinian who are issued with Travel Documents, or Sudanese and Bangladeshi nationals, as well as citizens of some African nations that have not upgraded their passports to Machine Readable Passports will not be able to travel internationally as of 24 November 2015. This is because the International Civil ...

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  • Discussion Paper: Community Support Programme

    15 July 2015 Assistant Secretary Citizenship and Humanitarian Policy Branch Department of Immigration and Border Protection PO Box 25 BELCONNEN ACT 2616 Dear Sir/Madam, Discussion Paper: Community Support Programme Please find enclosed a submission to the Department of Immigration and Bor...

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  • Major changes to the way in which a de-facto relationship is defined

    The Full Federal Court has now held that living together is now not a requirement needed to satisfy the definition of a “de facto partner” in Section 5CB of the Migration Act. In the case of SZOXP v Minister for Immigration and Border Protection [2015] FCAFC 69 (11 June 2015), the appellant is a citizen of C...

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Contact Us

Suite 309 – 310, Level 3
13A Montgomery Street

Ground Floor
54 Martin Place

Email: solicitors@gmhlegal.com
Phone: (02) 9587 0458
Facsimile: (02) 9587 2936


A person claiming to be a refugee or to be entitled to humanitarian protection may apply to the Refugee Review Tribunal (“the RRT”) if the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (“the DIBP”) has refused their protection visa application. The job of the RRT is to decide afresh applications the DIBP has refused – and if the refusal was incorrect, to decide the application in favour of the applicant (subject to other criteria e.g. character criteria).

Applications are usually refused because:

  • the application raises one or more complex legal or factual issues which are decided against the applicant;
  • insufficient evidence is presented to the Department of Immigration;
  • the case wasn’t properly explained to the Department of immigration;
  • the claims of the applicant were not believed; or
  • a combination of all of these factors.

An applicant only has a limited amount of time to lodge their application and the RRT cannot extend the application period even if the applicant has a strong case. If an applicant is unsuccessful with their initial application, they should therefore consult an experienced immigration lawyer immediately.

Whilst the Federal Court, and ultimately the High Court, can review the legality of the decision making process, an application to the RRT is the last chance to have an independent body decide all the claims for a protection visa on their merits. The potential impact of a negative RRT decision therefore has major consequences.

It is very important that an applicant consult an immigration lawyer with experience in refugee cases for advice about an application to the RRT and about the best way to run the case in the RRT. We have helped many people in their appeals of protection visa and other Humanitarian visas to the RRT. We continue to assist hundreds of people with their review cases and appear at Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT) hearings regularly.


If you are not satisfied with a visa decision you receive, you may be able to ask for the decision to be reviewed.

Not all decisions are ‘reviewable decisions’, but the department’s decision-maker will advise you in writing if the decision is reviewable, and what steps you can take if you want to ask for a review.

  • Most visa decisions with a right of review are reviewable by the Migration Review Tribunal (MRT).
  • Decisions about deportation and citizenship are reviewable by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).
  • Decisions on onshore protection visa applications are reviewable by the Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT).

Business-related sponsorships and nominations for temporary business entry visas, and employer nominations for permanent entry, are reviewable by the MRT.

Visitor visa applicants intending to visit Australian citizen/resident relatives may have a review right – again a decision-maker will advise of what review rights are available.

Subclass 200 (refugee) visas cancellations, where the holder is in Australia at the time of cancellation, may also be reviewable by the MRT.

Offshore humanitarian visaapplicants do not have a review right, but applicants for onshore protection visas (using form 866) do have a right of review by the RRT.


The Migration Act 1958 (Cth) and the Migration Regulations specify which decisions the tribunals can review, who may seek review of a decision, how an application for review must be made, the time limits within which applications for review must be lodged, and whether an application fee is payable. The rules vary depending on the type of matter.

The tribunals cannot accept an application for review lodged outside the relevant time limit or which has been lodged by a person who is not entitled to apply for review. Depending on the decision under review, the person applying for review must be the visa applicant, the former visa holder, the sponsor or a close relative.


The MRT and the RRT regularly provide information relating to processing times to applicants. The time taken by the Migration Review Tribunal or the Refugee Review Tribunal 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 tribunal member to conduct the review.

While cases are generally allocated in priority and date of lodgement order, cases may from time to time be allocated out of order of lodgement as part of a taskforce or targeted approach. Such allocations enable batches of cases raising similar issues to be dealt with more efficiently and allow the tribunals to deal with a greater volume of cases than would otherwise be the case.

The following table gives a guide as to how long it may take based on actual processing times. The table is a guide only and does not guarantee that any individual matter will be heard in these timeframes.

  • Bridging refusal average process time is 10 days;
  • Visitor refusal average process time is 152 days;
  • Student refusal average process time is 392 days
  • Temporary work refusal average process time is 453days;
  • Permanent business refusal average process time is 509 days;
  • Skill linked refusal average process time is 274 days;
  • Partner refusal average process time is 454 days;
  • Family refusal average process time is 334 days;
  • Student cancellation average process time is 246 days;
  • Nomination/Sponsor approval refusal average process time is 483 days;
  • Protection visa average process time is 250 days;
  • Other average process time is 142.

When will my case be given to a tribunal member?

Cases are allocated to members according to priorities set by legislation and in directions issued by the Principal Member.

What happens once my case is with a tribunal member?
Once a case has been allocated to a member, the member will decide how to proceed with the review. For information about the review process and ways you can help ensure your case is handled efficiently see Principal Member Direction Efficient Conduct of Reviews.

Why do cases take so long?

The tribunals have experienced very high levels of lodgements in recent years and have many applications for review. This has impacted on processing times and may continue to do so for some time to come. It is important to note that the time taken to make a decision on your case depends on a number of factors, including when you lodged your application for review, the total number of applications lodged with the tribunals in the same period, the type of decision to be reviewed, the complexity of the case and the average processing time for that type of review.

Can I apply for priority?

RRT cases are automatically allocated priority processing. You may write to the tribunals requesting that your MRT case be considered for priority constitution.


Sydney office
Opening hours
8:30am to 5:00pm on weekdays.

Street address
New South Wales Registry
Level 11, 83 Clarence Street
Sydney NSW 2000

Contact numbers
Tel: +61 2 9276 5000
Fax: +61 2 9276 5599

Postal address
GPO Box 1333
Sydney NSW 2001

Melbourne office

Opening hours
8:30am to 5:00pm on weekdays.

Street address
Victoria Registry
Level 10, 120 Spencer Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

Contact numbers
Tel:+61 3 8600 5900
Fax: +61 3 8600 5801

Postal address
PO Box 14158
Melbourne VIC 8001

Lodging applications in Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth

Applications for review may also be lodged at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal registries in Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth:


Administrative Appeals Tribunal
Level 11, Chesser House
91 Grenfell Street
Adelaide SA 5000


Administrative Appeals Tribunal
Level 4, Harry Gibbs Commonwealth Law Courts Building
119 North Quay Brisbane QLD 4000


Administrative Appeals Tribunal
Level 5, 111 St Georges Terrace
Perth WA 6000

Phone enquiries
National telephone enquiry number

Applicants located outside the Sydney or Melbourne metropolitan areas who need help or more information from the tribunals can telephone 1300 361 969. Local call charges apply, more from mobile telephones.

Overseas callers

Applicants located outside Australia who need help or more information from the tribunals can telephone New South Wales Registry on 61 2 9276 5000 or Victoria Registry on 61 3 8600 5900. International call charges apply.

Interpreting services

The Commonwealth Government, through the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, provides a Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) for people who do not speak English and for English speakers needing to communicate with them. TIS is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Within Australia, telephone 131 450 to contact TIS for the cost of a local call.
From overseas, telephone 61 3 9203 4027 to contact TIS for the cost of an international call.


To many the review process can be very daunting. Our registered migration agents and solicitors at GMH Legal are able to use theirs skills and experience in order to assist you to put the best case for review forward.

Our registered migration agents understand the procedural guidelines of the Tribunal and be able to assist in guiding a Member in reaching the best and preferable decision. Our registered migration agents makes use of past Tribunal decisions and refer to case laws in making strong written and oral submissions on behalf of our clients.

We understand receiving a negative decision on a visa can be very distressing, let alone the prospect of having to appear before a Tribunal to present your case. At GMH Legal, our Migration Agents have experience in Review Tribunal representation. We can assist you in the following ways:

  • Advise you on the overall process – what to expect on the day, your chances of success, time frames for hearing and decision, etc.
  • Advise you on the strict time frames for submitting your application
  • Research and submission writing – based on your particular situation, but making reference to previous similar Tribunal (and judicial) decisions
  • Appearance and representation at the Tribunal on the day of your Hearing
  • Follow-up submissions to the Member as required after the Hearing
  • Communications with you and the Tribunal in order to facilitate as smooth a process as possible

If you would like to have your situation assessed, please feel free to contact us to arrange an initial assessment session.


The Code of Conduct for registered migration agents is set out in legislation to regulate the conduct of registered migration agents. It prescribes our obligations towards our clients.

Provision for a Code of Conduct for migration agents is set out in Section 314 of the Migration Act 1958 and is prescribed in Schedule 2, Regulation 8 of the Migration Agents Regulations 1998.

You can read the Code of Conduct for registered migration agents by clicking on this link: Code of Conduct.

Call the experienced team at GMH Legal to assist you in your matter. A free consultation with GMH Legal is an opportunity to gain deep insights into your legal situation and all of your options.

Why Choose GMH Legal?

  • Over 60 years of combined legal experience
  • Outstanding track record with a winning approach
  • First appointment is always free
  • Meet our team now.

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