Did you know that once you lodge your visa application, the case officer can refuse at any time, without first notifying you? Sounds unfair right? The only time that case officers are required to provide you with a ‘warning’ that they may refuse your application is when they have information specifically about you and that information was not provided to the Department by you. (i.e. it came from someone else).

Therefore, if the case officer is simply deciding on the basis of information (or lack thereof) that you have provided in your application, he or she can refuse at any time.

How Can Your Visa Application Be Refused?

In deciding whether to grant or refuse to grant a visa, the Department of Home Affairs (the Department) will assess the following:

Valid Visa Application

First, the Department will assess whether your application has been validly lodged. The requirements for lodging a valid visa application, which are contained in Schedule 1 of the Migration Regulations, vary for each visa subclass. Some of the more common Schedule 1 criteria for all visas include lodging the correct visa application form, method of lodgement (i.e. paper or online), where the applicant must be at time of lodgement, and payment of the Visa Application Charge (VAC).

Other valid visa lodgement requirements can include a maximum age limit; obtaining a skills assessment by a certain date; achieving a prescribed minimum points score; and/or receiving an invitation from the Department to apply for a visa.

These are just some examples of the types of valid visa lodgement requirements that may apply, and will depend on the visa subclass for which you apply.

If your visa application is deemed not to be valid, then the visa assessment process will end there. You will be treated as if you never applied for the visa in the first place, and your VAC refunded. As this is not a refusal, you may then lodge another visa application.

Although a failure to validly lodge an application is not a visa refusal, the consequences can still be significant. For example, you may need to apply for a certain visa subclass within a certain timeframe, or before your reach the maximum prescribed age, to be eligible. If you submit an invalid application, the result is wasted time as you will need to do it all again, but by that stage, you may no longer meet the requirements for either valid visa lodgement, grant or both, for that visa, meaning this option may no longer be available to you.

Another consequence of making an invalid application is how this affects any Bridging Visa that may have been granted to you when you lodged your application. How so?

Well, when you apply for a substantive visa onshore (a substantive visa is any visa excluding a bridging visa, criminal justice or enforcement visa), you will be granted a Bridging Visa A, which will come into effect when your existing visa expires. This allows you to lawfully remain in Australia, until a decision is made on your application.

The problem with making an invalid application is that a consequence of this is that any bridging visa that was granted to you in connection with that application will cease 35 days after the substantive visa application is found to be invalid. You will thus have 35 days to decide what to do next before you must depart Australia.

Visa Grant Requirements

Once it has been determined that the visa application is valid, the Department will next assess whether Schedule 2 criteria in the Migration Regulations are met, and thus whether the visa meets all relevant requirements to enable it to be granted.

The result of this assessment will result in either a visa approval, or a refusal if the prescribed visa grant criteria are not satisfied.

Your application may be refused if you do not meet each visa grant requirement. So, for example, if you are applying for a Student Visa, and you do not satisfy the case officer that you are a genuine student, based on the information and evidence that you have provided, then you will not meet this requirement, and your application will be refused. This is an example of where insufficient supporting evidence can result in a visa rejection.

For a Partner Visa, a key visa grant criterion is that you are in a genuine spouse or de facto relationship with an Australian citizen or permanent resident, or eligible New Zealand citizen. To be deemed a genuine relationship for this purpose will be based on specific regulatory requirements, including a mutual commitment to a shared life as a couple to the exclusion of all others; a genuine and continuing relationship; and living together, or not living separately and apart on a permanent basis. If you are married, for example, providing only a Marriage Certificate will not be sufficient evidence of a genuine spouse relationship. In all Partner visa application cases, it is vital to provide as much information as you can to demonstrate to the Department that you meet all relevant requirements for the visa to be granted.

Or, you could fail to satisfy a visa grant criterion based on being a maximum age, or not achieving the minimum required level of English language competency, which may be the case when applying for certain Skilled Visas.

Learn more about some of the reasons why a visa application may be refused in the below articles.

Student Visa Refusal Australia

Most common refusal reasons for graduate visas

Top 5 reasons why partner visas are refused

What is the difference between student visa cancellation and student visa rejection

PIC 4020 Fact Sheet

What Happens If Your Visa Application Is Refused?

The consequences of a visa refusal can range from the minor, to more serious repercussions which could potentially affect your eligibility for a further visa to Australia in the future.

A visa refusal can lead to the following consequences:

  • Loss of the application charges that you have paid (these are not refundable);
  • Wasted time in the process, which ultimately does not achieve the result you were after;
  • You may be barred from making a further application for a visa onshore (if you don’t hold another visa);
  • Difficulty in obtaining approval for future applications (refusals are included in your ‘record’).

What Are Your Options If Your Visa Is Refused?

A visa rejection can be a distressing scenario for many people. Applying for a visa itself can often be a difficult and stressful experience, especially if you have a plan to settle in Australia permanently, and are making life-changing decisions in this regard. Having a visa refused may seems like an insurmountable challenge, but do not despair as there may be things you can do to alleviate the situation.

What options you will have depend on your personal situation and the reason/s for your application having been refused. Some of the potential options that may be available to you are to apply for a new visa onshore; to depart Australia and apply for another visa offshore; to seek a visa refusal appeal of the decision to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, or a subsequent visa refusal appeal to a court, or to the Minister to personally intervene in your case.

We have prepared a series of guides to explain the appeals process, as well as other options that you may have if your visa is refused. Please refer to the following articles for more information.

Visa refusal appeal Australia

What can I do when my Australian Visa gets rejected? What decisions can the AAT review?

Alternative options for applying for Australian visa after refusal or cancellation

What should you do if your Australian student visa gets rejected

How Can You Avoid A Visa Refusal?

To prevent your visa application being refused in the first place, it is crucial that first, you have a good understanding of the Migration laws currently in place, so that you know exactly what the requirements for visa grant are at the time you lodge your application. Keep in mind that the law and regulations do often change, and it is therefore essential to keep up to date on the latest developments in this regard.

As all cases are different, with each individual having unique circumstances, especially when it comes to meeting the visa grant requirements for a partner visa (given that no two relationships are the same), it is important that you provide sufficient supporting evidence of your specific circumstances, in an effort to demonstrate to the Department that you meet the visa grant requirements. You may be living apart from your partner, for work or cultural reasons, for example. Lodging a partner application without such evidence can risk the potential of it being refused. So, instead of simply ignoring this requirement, you and your partner need to provide detailed explanations and evidence of why this is the case. The Department acknowledges that all relationships are different, and will not automatically refuse an application simply because your situation may not be the common experience of relationships generally in Australia. If you fail to explain your circumstances and/or do not provide evidence in support of this however, you will likely be refused.

Avoid a visa rejection by lodging a complete and correct application, and by providing detailed, comprehensive supportive evidence to back up your claims. Each visa grant requirement must be evidenced to prevent the chance of a visa refusal.

So, when applying for a visa, make sure you provide as much information as possible to assist the case officer to make a decision in your favour.

How Can A Migration Agent Help?

As Registered Migration Agents, the team of experts at PAX Migration Australia have the experience and knowledge of the law to know exactly what needs to be provided to the Department to give you the best chance of an approval. We have the skills, qualifications and experience to provide advise on whether you meet visa grant requirements, and what supporting documentation you will need to provide, to maximise your chance of a successful outcome. What many people don’t know is that there is extensive knowledge that goes beyond the standard surface, such as the laws and regulations. There is a lot of information and knowledge behind the scenes, such as immigration policy, and appeals tribunal and court judgements, for example, which can help us to build a persuasive argument in your case. Networking and industry contacts also means that PAX Migration Australia is in and amongst the migration industry, with direct links to industry figures engaging with Government and other relevant regulatory departments. We are in the thick of the action, and you will therefore have a front row seat in all things migration when dealing with us.

Get More Information

To find out more about why you should consider choosing PAX Migration Australia, what our clients have to say about us, and why obtaining expert advice and assistance from a migration professional can be beneficial in achieving a positive outcome on your migration matter, please see the following articles:

Selecting a migration agent in Australia

Should I use a migration agent or immigration lawyer for my application?

Migration Agent in Adelaide

Immigration Agent Adelaide

Migration Agent Australia

Best Migration Agent Adelaide

PAX Migration Adelaide

Migration Agent Elizabeth

Migration Agent Aberfoyle Park

Migration Agent Glen Osmond 

Migration Agent Walkerville

For more information on what you can expect from PAX Migration Australia when you engage our services, including the process involved, please see the following articles:

Migration Agent Hallett Cove 

Migration Agent Kensington Park 

Migration Agent Morphett Vale

Migration Agent Oaklands Park

Migration Agent Reynella

Migration Agent Glenelg

Migration Agent Henley Beach

Migration Agent Noarlunga

Migration Agent Semaphore

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Talk to us about how we may be able to assist you in your visa application, so that you are fully informed about the requirements and process involved, to prevent your chances of having a visa denial.

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Given the complexity of the migration laws and the fact that every case is different, we recommend that you seek professional advice, to give yourself the best chance of a successful outcome on your visa application, or to receive advice on what your next options may be in the event that your application has been refused. PAX Migration Australia will assess your eligibility for a visa, explain the valid visa application lodgement and grant requirements, and advise on the documentary evidence that will be required. Being well prepared and properly informed about the process will give you the greatest chance of not only a successful outcome, but also avoid unnecessary delays.

For up to date advice on valid visa application and lodgement requirements, as well as the options you have if your visa application is refused, which may include a visa refusal appeal, book your confidential consultation with a migration agent in Adelaide. PAX Migration Australia is a leading immigration advice service based in Adelaide, and we aren’t expensive! Just ask us!

Skill Select Results


Australian Government – Department of Home Affairs – Immigration and Citizenship – Changes in your situation – Getting a refund


Australian Government – Department of Home Affairs – Refund request – Form 1424


Administrative Appeals Tribunal