AAT & Partner Visas

Partner visas exist to provide Australian citizens or permanent residents with the ability to “sponsor” their non-Australian partner or spouse, ultimately allowing them to spend their lives together in Australia.


Being confronted with a partner visa refusal can be a confusing and stressful situation. Why would the government think your relationship is not really a relationship? How can you prove that the reasons for the refusal are wrong? What is the process for doing this?


This article is designed to help give you a better understanding of these issues and lay out your options following a partner visa refusal.

  • Visa Refusal
  • The AAT Appeal Process
  • AAT Processing Times


Visa Refusal

When the Department of Home Affairs hands out a partner visa refusal, there may be a variety of very specific reasons given.


Genuine Relationship

Generally, most will fall under the following:

  • there was a lack of evidence provided in the visa application
  • the evidence provided was not strong enough
  • the Department has received information suggesting the relationship is not genuine


Regardless of the reason, it is important to understand that receiving a refusal is not necessarily the final answer.


The AAT Appeal Process

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) is an independent body that has the power to review decisions made by the government. This includes visa decisions.


An AAT review is the opportunity to show why the Department’s decision was wrong. If the AAT agrees that the government made a mistake in refusing your partner visa application, they have the power to:

  • vary the decision
  • completely set aside the Department’s decision, and provide a new decision
  • hand the decision back to the Department, and instruct them to reconsider it


Recently, No Borders was involved in a partner visa appeal. The Department had claimed that our clients were not in a de facto relationship. Following our submissions, the AAT agreed with us that our clients were, in fact, a de facto couple. The AAT told the Department that they needed to reconsider the application.


As you can see, the AAT’s ability to ‘review’ a decision can have favourable outcomes.


An AAT appeal can be an intimidating process, and it is important that you get it right. A key way to do this is by understanding what information the AAT will look for when hearing your appeal.


For a partner visa, the AAT will be looking at certain requirements. This will be the same requirements found in the visa application.



  • that there is a commitment “to a shared life, excluding others”
  • that the relationship is currently ongoing and genuine
  • that you and your partner are living together, and
  • that the marriage or de facto relationship is legally valid


In determining whether you meet the requirements, the AAT will look at certain categories of evidence. These categories are also the same as the ones that are part of the visa application.


  • financial aspects
  • household aspects
  • social aspects
  • the commitment both of you have for each other


It is important that applicants provide information that go towards both the requirements and categories of evidence for a partner visa. This is the information that the AAT will be looking for when deciding whether a refusal should be overturned.


It is also important to provide this information as soon as you can. The AAT may overturn a partner visa refusal without even needing the hearing process if satisfied with what you have provided early on.


Not needing to go through the hearing process would greatly reduce the total waiting time for you to hear an answer, especially given current processing times.


AAT Processing Times

Processing times at the AAT can be notoriously long. Currently, nearly every visa category that the AAT hears can take, on average, over a year.


For partner visas, the average time for a decision to be reached is currently over two years.


Need help with getting Australian Visas?


Email: [email protected]

Tel:  +61 (07) 3876 4000

Consultation:  https://www.noborders-group.com/form/free-consultation


We will help you by exploring visa options and securing application. As part of our services, we will assess the eligibility of the application for a partner visa and help you to get out of the abusive relationship and provide you with detailed advice on your chances of success. If you would like to discuss your visa options and evaluate the pathway to permanent residency, please make an enquiry  or  book a consultation to get expert advice with one of our knowledgeable and experienced Migration Agents/Lawyers on 07 3876 4000 or email: [email protected].


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