COVID-19 and protection visa reviews

COVID-19 and protection visa reviews

The Federal Circuit Court has changed the way it reviews decisions because of COVID-19 coronavirus. There are three things you need to know:

  • there is a new process for reviewing decisions about protection visas that involved a legal mistake
  • if you want a review, you must apply to the Federal Circuit Court within 35 days of the decision
  • if you are not sure about your rights, get legal advice. See Get help with migration.

Can I apply for a review?

If there was a legal mistake in the decision about your protection visa, you can apply to the Federal Circuit Court to review it. A legal mistake means that the decision-maker did not follow or apply the law correctly. This is also called an error of law. The Federal Circuit Court can review decisions of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal or Immigration Assessment Authority.

A review means that the Federal Circuit Court looks at your application and decides whether a mistake was made. If there was a mistake, the court will tell the tribunal or authority to follow the law correctly and make a new decision. The court cannot give you a visa or tell the tribunal or authority to give you a visa.

You must make an application for review within 35 days of the decision.

Proving that a decision-maker made a legal mistake is very complicated. You should get legal advice as soon as possible. Call Victoria Legal Aid on (03) 9269 0416 for free and confidential legal advice or see Get help with migration.

What do I have to do?

After you make an application, there are four steps you need to follow. We will explain each step. They are:

  1. sign consent orders
  2. file and serve documents
  3. update your address if it has changed
  4. join the video hearing if the court decides to hold one.

Why must I sign consent orders?

The court is telling people not to go to court because of COVID-19 coronavirus. Instead, the court will ask you to sign papers called consent orders.

Before you have a hearing about your review, you will get a letter or email asking you to sign consent orders. Signing consent orders mean that you agree to the timetable they suggest for your application. This includes:

  • the date you need to give the court and other party your reasons for saying the decision is wrong. You will need to give your reasons in writing. If you have a lawyer, your lawyer can help you with this
  • the date the court will review the decision about your protection visa. This is called the final hearing.

If you do not have a lawyer, the Minister for Home Affairs will get their lawyer to contact you about the consent orders. This lawyer works for the government and is not your lawyer. You can ask for an interpreter if you need one. If you do not understand what they tell you, you should get legal advice as soon as possible. Call Victoria Legal Aid on (03) 9269 0416.

How do I file and serve documents?

Before your hearing, you must share your written arguments about why the decision was wrong with the court and the other party. The other party is the person your application is against. For example, the Minister for Home Affairs. There may be more than one other party.

There are documents that you must file (give to the court) before your hearing. You can file documents by emailing the court.

You must also serve (give) these documents to the other party. You can serve documents by emailing them to the lawyers for the Minister for Home Affairs. Their details will be on the front of your court book. Your court book is the bundle of documents the court sends you after you sign consent orders. These documents include papers you and the other party gave the tribunal, authority, court and each other.

The following documents must be filed with the court and served on the other party 28 days before your final hearing:

  • any changes to your application
  • written submissions (reasons) why you say the decision-maker made a legal mistake.

What if my address has changed?

If you change your address, you must file and serve a notice of address for service. To file and serve this notice, you should email it to the court and the other party’s lawyers. The email address for the other party’s lawyers will be at the front of your court book.

How do I attend my hearing?

The court is not holding in-person hearings because of COVID-19 coronavirus. The court may hold a hearing by video. The court will write to you about the final hearing date and tell you how to join the hearing. If you need an interpreter, the court will arrange for an interpreter to join the hearing. At your hearing, the court will listen to your arguments on why the decision was wrong. The court will also listen to the other party’s arguments.

The court’s decision

What if the court agrees with me?

If the court agrees there was a legal mistake, it will tell the tribunal or authority to follow the law correctly and make a new decision. The court cannot give you a visa or tell the tribunal or authority to give you a visa.

If the other party does not agree with the court’s decision, they may appeal to a higher court. That means they ask a higher court to decide if the Federal Circuit Court made a mistake. If this happens, get legal advice as soon as possible. Call Victoria Legal Aid on (03) 9269 0416 or see Get help with migration.

What if the court does not agree with me?

If the court does not agree there was a legal mistake, it will probably order that you pay some of the other party’s legal costs. This may be thousands of dollars.

If you think the court’s decision was wrong, you may be able to appeal to a higher court. You should get legal advice as soon as possible. Call Victoria Legal Aid on (03) 9269 0416 or see Get help with migration.

How do I contact the Court?

Federal Circuit Court of Australia (Victorian registry)

You can contact the court if you have any questions, need to give the court documents or change your address:

More information

Learn more about legal issues and COVID-19 coronavirus

Visit our ‘Find legal answers’ page on Migration

Get help

See Get help with migration

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