AAT’s Procedural changes during COVID-19

The Migration & Refugee Division of the AAT (Administrative Appeals Tribunal) has issued COVID-19 Special Measures Practice Direction dated 27 April 2020 (the
Direction) in pursuance of Section 18B of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975
(AAT Act) to respond to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic. Vide the Direction, changes
have been made to the operations and procedures of the AAT’s Migration & Refugee
Division including registry and lodgement of documents, priorities for cases, pre-hearing
process, requests for expedited decision, preparing for AAT hearings and the use of
technology.

The AAT conducts independent review of administrative decisions, including primary
decision of refusal or cancellation by the Department of Home Affairs, and resolves
cases on basis of merits in accordance with its own established procedures. The AAT
has the power affirm the decision or vary the decision of the Department, or remit the
matter to the Department for reconsideration, or set aside the decision of the
Department to give a new decision, or dismiss the application without taking any action.

The Direction has come into effect from 29 April 2020 and according to sub-clause 1.3 of
the Direction, it “applies to all applications, whether lodged before or after this date, and
remains in effect until it is superseded or revoked”. Thus, until further notice, all AAT
matters are to proceed as per the provisions laid down under the Directions.

Key Changes in the Direction

  • Closure of registries to visitors, unless allowed.
  • Provision of services over phone and online.
  • Lodging new applications online.
  • Relaxation of signature requirements for online submission of documents.
  • No personal hearings, unless allowed.
  • All hearings to be conducted over phone or videoconferencing.
  • Priority given to cases that do not require a hearing or if required, hearing can be
    conducted over phone or videoconferencing.

Please know that if the AAT considers that hearing in a particular matter should be held
in person only, the hearing may not be scheduled until the AAT resumes conducting
personal hearings.

If you are considering applying to the AAT or waiting for a hearing at the AAT, Discuss Your Situation with us or call us on (02) 4626 100 to speak to one of our Registered Migration Agents. Migration Centre of Australia has a team of migration specialists who are experienced in AAT appeals and have helped several clients in winning at the AAT including complex matters.

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