Australian Visa Update: Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) resumes ‘in-person’ hearing from migration matters

The AAT is mindful that hearing matters remotely is not always practical in some circumstances and where the matter may not be deferred.

The AAT is taking steps to resume limited in-person hearings in the Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart, Perth and Sydney registries.

The AAT will consider list in-person hearings on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the AAT’s practice directions.

In appropriate matters, in-person hearings are expected to commence within the next few weeks. Parties will be contacted by the Tribunal as to hearing arrangements.

Most AAT hearings and all AAT conferences will continue to be conducted remotely by video conference or telephone for some time.

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Australian Visa Update – Student visa arrangements for those impacted by COVID-19

The Hon Ministers Alan Tudge and Dan Tehan have released a joint media statement outlining the arrangements to be put in place for student visa applicants and student visa holders who have been impacted by the COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The release notes five (5) visa changes:

🔹 Grants of student visas in all locations lodged outside Australia will recommence, so visa holders will be ready to travel when borders reopen

🔹 Free Visa Application Charge (VACs) for international students who lodge further student visa applications, if they were unable to complete their studies within their original visa validity due to COVID-19

🔹 Current student visa holders studying online outside Australia due to COVID-19 will be have that study counted towards the Australian study requirement for a post-study work visa

🔹 Graduates who held a student visa will be eligible to apply for a post-study work visa outside Australia, if they are unable to return due to COVID-19

🔹 Additional time will be given for applicants to provide English language results where COVID-19 has disrupted access to these services

As these announcements will required legislative changes, there is no further detail available at the moment and we will update you further at that time.

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Latest Information for Temporary/Permanent Visa Holders and Australian Citizens

Leaving Australia?

Latest Information for Temporary/Permanent Visa Holders and Australian Citizens

The following updated information has been released by the Australian Border Force (ABF) relating to travellers wishing to LEAVE Australia.


Due to the current COVID-19 situation in Australia, including state and territory border restrictions, business closures and social distancing requirements, international visitors are encouraged to return home when possible to do so.

Temporary visa holders should be aware that if they wish to return to Australia while COVID-19 restrictions are in place, they will generally need a travel exemption. You do not need permission to depart Australia (however an exemption to return must be sought as per standard protocol)

Temporary visa holders returning to their home country

Temporary visa holders impacted by COVID-19 can make arrangements to return to their home country, if border restrictions in that country allow.

Registering your details – Available for Temporary Visa holders only

The Australian Border Force (ABF) will provide your information to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which may provide this information to your home government (either overseas or represented by the embassy, consulate or High Commission in Australia). This may assist with logistical issues such as securing a flight and also provide advice in relation to any local requirements.

Australian and permanent residents

If you are an Australian citizen or a permanent resident and you plan to leave Australia, you will need to apply for a travel exemption in order to return.

You can apply online but you must meet at least one of the following:

🔹 your travel is as part of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including the provision of aid

🔹 your travel is essential for the conduct of critical industries and business (including export and import industries)

🔹 you are travelling to receive urgent medical treatment that is not available in Australia

🔹 you are travelling on urgent and unavoidable personal business

🔹 you are travelling on compassionate or humanitarian grounds

🔹 your travel is in the national interest.

Travel Exemptions are in place for the following applicants:

🔹 ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia

🔹 an airline, maritime crew or associated safety worker

🔹 a New Zealand citizen holding a Special Category (subclass 444) visa

🔹 engaged in the day-to-day conduct of outbound freight

🔹 associated with essential work at Australian offshore facilities

🔹 travelling on official government business, including members of the Australian Defence Force.


You are considered ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia if international movement records show that you’ve spent more time outside Australia than inside for the last 12 to 24 months. You do not need to carry a paper record of your movements with you. If required, Australian Border Force officers at airports can check your movement records in Departmental systems.

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Visa Options And Pathways To Australian Permanent Residency For Hong Kong Nationals

Attracting ‘Global Talent’ to Australia

As political and social tensions rise in Hong Kong, the Australian Government has responded by offering Hong Kong citizens on temporary visa’s in Australia and potential future applicants; a ‘safe haven visa’ to prevent them from forcibly returning to Hong Kong.

Further to an announcement by the Australian Prime Minister on 9 July 2020, it was confirmed that students, temporary graduates and skilled workers from Hong Kong who want to study, live and/or work in Australia will be able to apply to stay in Australia with a pathway to permanent residency.

The Government hopes to attract high skilled candidates and businesses from Hong Kong to Australia to increase productivity with the objective that this would act as a ‘job multiplier’ for the domestic Australian workforce.

There are currently approximately 10,000 students, temporary graduates and skilled workers from Hong Kong in Australia who may be eligible for these changes, with a further 2,500 outside Australia and 1,250 applications on hand.

Specifically, the below changes for each group of Hong Kong nationals will be effective:

Temporary Graduates

🔹 will be offered an additional five years of work rights.

🔹 will be offered a pathway to permanent residency at the end of that period.


🔹 Current and future students will be eligible for a five-year graduate visa when their studies have completed.

🔹 Current and future students will be offered a pathway to permanent residency at the end of that period.

Skilled Workers

🔹 Current temporary skilled visa holders from Hong Kong will be eligible for an extension of five years from today in addition to the time they have already been in Australia,

🔹 Also, they will be offered a pathway to permanent residency at the end of that period.

Applicants Who Already Work And Study In Regional Areas

🔹 will be able to access a pathway to permanent residency after 3 years.

Future Hong Kong Applicants For Temporary Skilled Visas

🔹 will be eligible for a five-year visa with pathway to permanent residency after 5 years

🔹 eligibility will be subject to updated skills lists and Labour Market Testing requirements or,

🔹 they may qualify through the Global Talent temporary visa scheme,

🔹 this scheme is for exceptional talent where the sponsoring employer pays above the Fair Work High Income Threshold of $153,600.

The Australian Government is considering further incentives to attract business in Hong Kong, such as export oriented businesses to relocate to Australia in the hope of creating growth and employment. There will be economic incentives and pathways to permanent residency for critical Hong Kong based staff.

It is planned that this will be done using the current ‘Global Talent and Business Innovation and Investment’ Australian visa Programs, which are both part of the permanent migration program. These programs will be prioritised to facilitate the Hong Kong caseload, additionally, the Australian visa application centre in Hong Kong will re-open (which had shut down due to COVID19).

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Nevett Ford Lawyers Melbourne
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Visa Refused?

Nevett Ford Immigration Lawyers Can Represent You At The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) And Attend Your Hearing

If your application for a visa to visit, enter or stay in Australia is refused, you may be able to appeal the decision. Similarly, if you have held a visa to stay in Australia and the visa has been cancelled, you may be able to appeal that decision to cancel your visa.

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) is the merits review body for most administrative decisions by the Federal Government. In 2015, the operations of the Migration Review Tribunal (MRT) and Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT) were absorbed into the Migration Division of the AAT. In the Migration Division, the AAT operates as a non-adversarial tribunal to review decisions by the Department of Immigration. This means that you can be represented by an Immigration Lawyer.

Decisions are made by a tribunal Member who will review the Department of Home Affair’s decision and the facts of your situation. Appealing an adverse decision is complex and involves making an application to the Migration and Refugee Division of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (the AAT).

If you have been refused a visa, it is very important to pay careful attention to the notice of the refusal, it includes the detailed reasons for the refusal and what requirements you were not able to fulfil. The importance of taking notice of this information cannot be overstressed. If you have the legal right to make an appeal, the notice will state this.

The time limit within which you must lodge an appeal to the AAT for review is strictly limited and must be adhered to otherwise the application will be rejected. The period for making an appeal will depend on the decision sought to be reviewed.

The process and procedures for making an appeal to the AAT is complex and legal advice and assistance from an Immigration Lawyer is highly recommended. You should consider seeking legal advice immediately if thinking about taking the appeal option.

If you are the applicant of a decision involving a visa refusal or cancellation – talk to us for help with making an appeal.

Remember that there are strict time limits for lodging an appeal to the AAT from the day you are given notice of the decision; you must act promptly if you want to appeal. The lawyers at Nevett Ford Lawyers can lodge this on your behalf.

We have represented clients successfully at the AAT on many occasions. If you would like advice and assistance in making an appeal for your refusal or cancellation, please book a consultation with one of our migration advisors. In the consultation we can give you an indication of the overall prospects of success and likely issues in your case, as well as any alternative visa pathways.

When seeking a review at the AAT, it is imperative that you do not make the same mistakes that you made in your visa application, as this may be your last chance to attempt to approve your visa.

Speak with one of our experienced immigration lawyers today

Nevett Ford Lawyers Melbourne

📞: +61 396 147 335