Administrative Appeals Tribunal – General Division

Administrative Appeals Tribunal – General Division

Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) – General Division

Section 501 Character Decisions

Australian Citizenship

The AAT-General Division hears cases section 501 (character grounds) visa refusals / cancellations and refusals / cancellations of Australian citizenship. The AAT-General Division is a far more formal  then the AAT – Migration Review Division. AAT – General Division procedural and evidentiary rules must be satisfied to ensure your case is prepared properly, evidence is accepted and witnesses heard to give evidence on your behalf. Generally, only experienced immigration lawyers and barristers can / do appear in the AAT-General Division and getting the right representative is essential to success.


How/When Can I apply?

Applications can be  paper You can either fill out an application form (which is recommended) or write a letter to the AAT-General Division setting your appeal. You can lodge your appeal by post, email, facsimile. Time frames for appeal are prescribed by law and vary, for example Citizenship refusals must be lodged within 28 days of ‘deemed notification’, Section 501 appeal must be lodged within 9 days. Deemed notification provisions also vary. Therefore, the calculation on time for lodgment is critical and must be accurate.


What happens after I lodge?

You will receive notification of acceptance of your appeal by the AAT-General Division. A preliminary hearing will be set and Section 37 or ‘T Documents will be sent to you by the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection’s solicitors. Pre-hearing submissions and evidence will be requested and must be put on, Subpoenas for evidence from Courts and police may also be issued. A number of conferences will then be held to see if your case can succeed without going to final hearing and if it isn’t, directions will be given and a final hearing set.


What happens at the AAT Hearing?

The hearing at the AAT-General Division is like going to Court and is very different from AAT-Migration Review Division hearings. Your representative appears on your behalf and runs your appeal for your calling witnesses putting on evidence and providing oral submissions. You will also have to give evidence and people who have given statutory declarations in support should also be willing to appear. The Minister’s solicitors will appear to argue the Minister’s case and try to convince the Tribunal why your appeal should be refused.


What Should be Provided with my Appeal?

You must support your appeal with a much evidence and information as possible to assist the AAT Member in finding in your favour. Legal Submissions must be submitted that address the reasons for refusal/cancellation and the law and policy that must be satisfied for the appeal to be successful. Case law must also be referred to support the legal principles and arguments you are making. Remember , this may be your last chance at  getting your visa back or obtaining Australian citizenship  and remaining in Australia so putting your case to the AAT Member properly is essential to winning.


How can Turner Coulson Help?

Our immigration lawyers / advisors have over 20 years of experience arguing cases on behalf of clients in the AAT achieving success where the client would have lost if self-represented, including complex character cases and having appeared in the most complex section 501 Character cases. Don’t take a chance with your future. Call us now for a consultation so that you can get a clear picture of your chances of success and how your case should be argued. We can then take your matter for you to lodge, prepare and appear at the AAT for you.

Getting the right advice upfront is essential so contact us for a free no obligation telephone discussion with one of our advisors who are ready and waiting to assist  –

  • Direct call on (+61) 2 9222 1545
  • Send us an email
  • Request a callback


NOTE Effective from 11 December 2014, the section 501 character cancellation provisions have been amended with dramatic effect on people serving custodial sentences in Australian prisons.

The effect of the new section 501 (3A), is that if a person is in prison serving a sentence of 12 months or more, than the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection must move to cancel the person’s visa. The person will not receive a Notice of Intention to Consider Cancellation (NOICC) of the visa but will only receive notice of actual cancellation.

When released from prison, the cancelled visa holder will be met by immigration officers and taken directly into immigration detention. They then have 28 days from the date of ‘deemed’ notice of cancellation to seek revocation of the cancellation. If revocation is applied for but refused, this refusal must be applied for to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). AAT Appeal time frames are very short and cannot be extended.


If Cancelled Under S 501(3A), have a Family Member Contact us Immediately

If your visa is cancelled under section 501(3A) you must get the decision over turned or you will be deported and you will not return to Australia lawfully again. We have acted in many character cases over the years and have seen first and the impact character cancellation has on Australian family members, children and friends. Seeking revocation is the 1st only 2 chances you have to get your Australian via back and continue your life in Australia. The 2nd and final chance is the appeal to the AAT. Therefore, it is critical that we are involved at the 1st stage and seek revocation on your behalf. Getting this advice and assistance a the earliest opportunity is critical.