AAT merits review


Up until 1 July 2015, the AAT had jurisdiction only to review the following departmental decisions on their merits:

  • to refuse to grant a protection visa or to cancel a protection visa relying on Articles 1F, 32 or 33 of the Refugee Convention or section 36(2C) of the Migration Act 1958
  • to cancel a business visa
  • to order the deportation of a non-citizen convicted of certain crimes
  • to register, or refuse to register, a person as a migration agent
  • to deregister, or refuse to deregister, a person as a migration agent
  • to cancel or suspend a person’s registration as a migration agent
  • to refuse to grant, or to cancel, a visa on the basis that the non-citizen does not satisfy the delegate of the minister that the person passes the character test
  • access to information (decisions made under the Freedom of Information Act 1982)
  • review of certain decisions made under the Australian Citizenship Act 2007.

From 1 July 2015, in addition to these decisions, the AAT now has jurisdiction over:

  • a range of visa refusal and visa cancellation decisions under the Migration Act 1958 that had previously been reviewed by the Migration Review Tribunal (MRT); and
  • most onshore protection refusal decisions under the Migration Act 1958 that had previously been reviewed by the Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT).

Note: Before 1 July 2015, a merits review tribunal decision also included decisions from the MRT and RRT. These two tribunals merged into the AAT, so the AAT is now the only merits review tribunal that can make a merits review decision that relates to immigration matters. For more information about the amalgamation of the merits review tribunals on 1 July 2015, see “Merits Review Tribunals – 1 July 2015 changes – Client Fact Sheet”



The Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) provides information on the skill levels of jobs, qualifications and/or experience needed to work in a skilled occupation – see the Australian Bureau of Statistics website.


BV Bridging Visa There are 7 different Bridging visas – each with its own criteria and purpose.

There is further a hierarchy of BVs – BACDREF. The 2 most common bridging visas are BV-A & BV-B.

If you lodge an onshore valid application of the kind that can be lodged while onshore, and is classed as an onshore visa, you may be eligible for an associated BV-A. This will be an automatic grant and may contain your current / last visa conditions.

You will only be eligible for a BV-B if you hold a BV-A, although some BV-A will not be eligible for a BV-B (e.g. if your BV-A is associated with a visitor visa, or protection visa).

BVs are complex and should be discussed with an experienced agent.

Character Test

​Everyone who wants to enter or stay in Australia must satisfy the character requirement as set out in Section 501 of the Migration Act 1958 (the Act). This includes all non-citizens, sponsors of visa applicants and non-migrating family members seeking to enter or stay in Australia.

Entering or remaining in Australia is a privilege, and it is expected that non-citizens are, and have been, law-abiding. Visa holders must also continue to satisfy the character requirement.

Irrespective of which visa you apply for, you must advise us if you have any criminal convictions inside or outside of Australia, and you may be asked to provide police certificates as part of your assessment against the character test. If you do not inform us of your criminal history, your visa application may be refused or your visa cancelled.

We and the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection have the power to refuse or cancel a visa on the basis that a person does not pass the character test.

In some cases, even if you do not pass the character test, we or the Minister can exercise discretion not to cancel your visa.

Decisions to cancel or refuse visas on the basis of the character test are made after full consideration of all the circumstances of a case.

Consumer Guide a guide of your rights as migrant re what you can expect from a MARA registered agent

CSOL Consolidated Skilled Occupation List effective from 1/7/2012. CSOL has 2 schedules. Sch 1   Sch 2 (replaced by the MLTSSL & STSOL from 17/4/2017)

e-Lodgement means an application is lodged through an IMMIAccount

ENS Employer Nominatin Scheme |


The Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) is available online 24 hours a day seven days a week, for applicants outside Australia who want to visit Australia for tourism or business purposes.

An ETA allows the holder to travel to Australia as many times as required within the validity period which is 12 months from the date of issue. The maximum length of each visit is three months.

An ETA is an electronically stored authority equivalent to a visa. There is no stamp or label placed in your passport. ETA information is accessible by airlines, travel agents and Australian border agencies. An ETA is linked to the passport number that is used in an ETA application and the holder must use the same passport to travel to Australia.

Electronic Travel Authority (subclass 601) are available to passport holders from a number of countries and regions.


Family Unit The legislation regulating who can be included in a visa application (therefore who forms part of a family unit) was changed in November 2017. Specific visas may have specific criteria of who can / cannot be included

GSM General Skilled Migration 

Health Criteria 

IELTS International English language test

IRMAP (see Consumer guide)

LOA Letter of Advice An agent will prepare an advice letter after having scrutinized your information. Typically an LOA contains visa options, cost, an overview of critical information relevant to your circumstances, agent fees, and a recommendation.

MARA Migration Agents Regulatory Agency

All migration agents working in Australia must be registered with MARA and have a MARA Number (MARN)

MIA Migration Institute of Australia 

MRT Merits Review Tribunal  (see AAT)

RSMS Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme The sc187 visa has its own criteria and own skilled list strictly by post code.

Further complicating this visa, is that some occupations have mandatory skills assessments and are specifically prescribed by Legislative Instrument (currently IMMI 12/096).

  • IMMI 12/096 lists certain occupations that require a positive skills assessment if they do not hold an Australian qualification.
  • This is a critical part of skilled migration, and one that has bitten many sc187 visa applicants.
  • Without satisfying this criteria your application is mortally wounded.

In general terms (always considering IMMI 12/096), one needs:

  • An Australian qualification or
  • Positive skills assessment or
  • At least 3 yrs relevant work experience
    • However, if you do not have the relevant qualification as per your occupation’s skill’s level, you must add certain number of years to your relevant work experience as these additional yrs are taken in lieu of the formal qualification required for your occupation, e.g. skills level 1 requires an additional 5 yrs relevant work experience.

RSMS post codes are listed under IMMI 17/059


VAC Visa Application Charge


For a fast and convenient way to view and email your visa details and conditions, download myVEVO for free from your app store – it’s VEVO in your pocket.





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