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If the Department makes a decision which is unfavourable, it is sometimes possible to seek a review of that decision.
The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), Migration and Refugee Division, has the power to conduct merits review of a wide range of decisions in relation to visas (including protection visas) and citizenship applications made by officers of the Department.
Merits review is where a review body considers afresh the claims of an applicant and any additional information which is put forward during the review process. The review body must determine if the correct or preferable decision was made. Importantly, review bodies are generally bound by the same rules as the primary decision-maker and must act in accordance with the applicable law.
A merits review tribunal generally either affirms, varies or sets aside the original decision. In certain cases the tribunal can also remit the matter to the DIBP for reconsideration.
In addition to tribunal and court review as well as Ministerial intervention, a person concerned about the manner in which the Department has handled a particular matter may lodge a complaint to various independent bodies, including the Commonwealth Ombudsman, or the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. These bodies generally only have recommendatory powers (rather than the power to change a decision). However, they can investigate and take action about such things as maladministration and discrimination in policy, process and decision-making.
An applicant who has no review rights can also ask the Department to reconsider the application. However, it is only worth trying this in cases where the Department has made an obvious error. Alternatively, the applicant should examine the reasons for refusal and, if possible, lodge a fresh application with further information.
AAT, Migration and Refugee Division