Australia Visa Refusals Up: What Every Applicant Needs To Know

Migrating to Australia has become more complex than ever with statistics showing visa refusals increased by 46% in 2017-18. As part of their 30 year anniversary special, Interstaff takes a closer look into how the growing refusal rate is impacting individuals wanting to live and work in Australia, as well as businesses requiring migration solutions.

Written by Sheila Woods of Interstaff  11 December, 2018

Australia’s increased focus on visa integrity

In 2017-18, Australia granted permanent residence to 162,417 migrants – a figure well below the annual migration ceiling of 190,000 places. Read our insights on the factors that contributed to the reduced number of visas granted here. One of the factors contributing to the overall drop in figures is the Government’s focus on visa integrity over the past year – specifically on character and identity issues, which resulted in a 46% increase in refusals in 2017-18 in comparison to the previous year, and an increase in withdrawals by 17%. It is a stark reminder of the importance of getting professional advice if you are unsure about your visa application. Even relatively minor criminal offences, matters and sanctions from decades ago which may be considered ‘spent’ or ‘quashed’ in a person’s home country may be considered when the Government reviews an application.


84% Increase in Appeals for Work and Business Visas, including Sponsorship and Nomination

Recent statistics released by the Department of Home Affairs give an indication of the volume of decisions being appealed per visa category. Employers and skilled visa holders need to be aware the most common type of applications for review to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (‘the Tribunal’) in 2017–18 related to work or business visas, including decisions about nomination and sponsorship, business skills visas, skilled visas and temporary work visas. Lodgements for business and work visas increased by 84% compared to the previous reporting year and comprised 29% of all applications received.

The introduction of the new Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) 482 Visa has introduced new rigour and very specific evidence requirements Labour Market Testing and other obligations and the risk of refusal for not preparing specific evidence appears to be high at this time while businesses are adjusting to the changes.

The migration industry peak body, the Migration Institute of Australia has warned the migration advisory community of the very particular way in which Department case officers are assessing evidence requirements and the high risk of nomination refusals and loss of SA Levy investments by employers. As regulations become more complex, it is becoming important to seek professional advice from a migration agent that specialises in business migration. The requirements for a nomination and skilled visa application differ greatly from partner, family and student visas and the costs of the Skilling Australians Fund are non-refundable in many cases if a nomination is refused.

Lodgements relating to decisions to refuse or cancel student visas were the next most common type of case. Interestingly there was a 54% increase in Tribunal lodgements of this type in comparison to the previous year. Applications to review decisions at the Tribunal regarding family and partner visas however decreased by 9% in the 2017-18 year.


Visa appeals backlog push waiting times out to 50 weeks or longer

Due to the 46% increase in the number of visa refusals in 2017-18, more people have sought to appeal their visa decisions with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. The flow-on impact has resulted in delayed hearings and a significant backlog of applications at the Tribunal. According to the Tribunal, the number of applications to review decisions for migration visas increased by 43% in 2017-18 in comparison to the previous year.

As a result of the backlog, it can now take an average of 50 weeks to understand if a visa refusal or cancellation has been successfully repealed, which can be a long and anxious wait for visa applicants. The wait is 11 weeks longer than the previous year. According to The Saturday Paper in November, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal were still finalising some cases dating back to 2014. The Saturday Paper reported the Tribunal was struggling with staffing issues while caseloads continued to grow, however an additional 30 case managers have since been recruited in the last few weeks to help manage the backlog.


Only 29% of visa decisions were changed or reverted to the Department in comparison to 38% in 2016-17

Last year the Administrative Appeals Tribunal only changed or reverted the visa decision for 29% of cases. People applying to have their visa refusal or cancellation decision changed need to have a strong case for appeal as the Tribunal are not reversing decisions lightly. In 35% of cases, the original decision to refuse or cancel a person’s visa was affirmed by the Tribunal. The remainder of the applications were withdrawn by the applicant (20%), did not meet the application requirements (10%) or were dismissed due to not being present at the hearing (5%).


Interstaff | Visa refusal specialists with 30 years’ experience

Interstaff are regularly sought after for our extensive experience in managing visa appeals for refusals and cancellations. With 30 years of experience, our team specialise in complex cases such as visa refusals and cancellation and provide comprehensive advice to support you throughout the appeal process. Find out more about how we assist with visa appeals here or contact our Registered Migration Agents for a free visa assessment on 08 9221 3388 or

MARN: 0533879.