Important Disclaimer

Legal options after being rejected by Refugee Review Tribunal

If the Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT) has refused your refugee application you have 28 days from the date of the decision letter before your bridging visa expires.  After this period of time you will become an unlawful and may be detained or deported.  These are some options.


Judicial Review
An appeal to the Federal Court, Federal Magistrates Court or High Court will only be successful if the Refugee Review Tribunal has made a specific error of law in making its decision. It is very complex and difficult to do without the assistance of a solicitor or barrister.

You have  28 days from the date of deemed notification of the Tribunal's decision to apply to the Federal Court or Federal Magistrates Court.

You have 35 days from the date of actual notification of the Tribunal's decision to apply to the High Court.

Apply to Minister of Immigration to stay for humanitarian reasons
If the Tribunal has found that you are not a refugee, but you believe there are strong humanitarian reasons for giving you a protection visa, then you can write to the Minister for Immigration asking him to allow you to stay in Australia. 

The Minister is sent hundreds of these letters and in most cases he will not allow people to stay for humanitarian reasons, but this should not discourage you from applying if you believe that your case is strong.

You should write to the Minister as soon as possible after the decision of the RRT or finalisation of judicial review. The Minister will not consider a letter while judicial review is ongoing.

The Minister will allow you to stay if he believes it is in Australia's public interest to do so, but there are a number of factors he particularly looks at.  These are summarised in a sheet called Ministerial Guidelines for the Identification of Unique or Exceptional Cases.

The Minister has the power, but is not obliged, to exercise these guidelines issued under section 417 of the Act.  If your case involves 'unique or exceptional circumstances' it may be in the public interest for the Minister to intervene for compassionate reasons.  The following factors may be relevant in assessing whether your case involves unique or exceptional circumstances:

  • Particular circumstances that provide a sound basis for a significant threat to your security or human rights.
  • Particular circumstances or characteristics including where it would be inhumane to return you to a country where you have experienced torture and trauma and would be likely to experience further trauma in that country.
  • Where there are substantial grounds for believing you may be in danger of being subject to torture if required to return to your country of origin in contravention of the International Convention Against Torture.
  • Circumstances that may bring Australia's obligations as a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child into consideration, where it is in the best interests of the child that you should remain in Australia. If you have a child that is an Australian citizen (one of the child's parents are an Australian citizen) you should emphasise this situation.
  • Circumstances that may bring Australia's obligations as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) into consideration, where you would face a real risk of violation of your fundamental human rights such as being subject to torture or the death penalty (no matter whether lawfully imposed).
  • Circumstances that the legislation could not have anticipated.
  • Intended, but in the particular circumstances, particularly unfair or unreasonable consequences of legislation.
  • Strong compassionate circumstances that would result in irreparable harm and continuing hardship to an Australian family unit (where at least one member of the family is an Australian citizen or permanent resident) or an Australian citizen.
  • Exceptional economic, scientific, cultural or other benefit to Australia.
  • The length of time you have been present in Australia (including time spent in detention) and your level of integration into the Australian community.
  • Your age. 
  • Your health and psychological state.

You should try to show why you fall into one or more of these categories.

You should also collect as many letters of support for or proof of, your situation as you can.  These may come from Amnesty International, community organisations, ethnic groups, religious bodies and local politicians. 

Details of your involvement in Australian society are also relevant.

Include letters of support from any Australian permanent resident of citizen family members especially children or partners. Included certified copies of birth certificates, citizenship certificates or passports as evidence. 

An example of a letter is available.  It is an example only, and must be written to suit your circumstances.

Apply to the Minister to lodge a second refugee application
You can only put in a second refugee application if the Minister gives you permission.  You can write to the Minister requesting he exercise his discretion under s 48B to allow you to put in another application.

The Minister will only give his permission if there is new evidence or new circumstances that apply to your case which were not available or had not happened before the Tribunal made its decision.  If the information was available previously, you must show a very good reason why it was not given to the Tribunal.

Other immigration options
Once you have been rejected by the RRT, you are prevented from applying for most other immigration categories in Australia. 

For information about other immigration options, you can call IARC (Immigration Advice and Rights Centre), a free immigration legal service, on their advice line, (02) 9281 8355.

Leaving Australia
If you have not applied for any of the above options, or if any of the above options are not successful, then in most cases you have 28 days after the decision to leave Australia.  You will need to confirm this with the time limits on your bridging visa. 

If you need some more time to make arrangements you should contact the Immigration Department. If you do not leave Australia by this time, then you are liable to be taken to Immigration Detention and deported.

Important Disclaimer: Australian Lawyers for Human Rights Inc is not registered as a migration agent. It is not a legal practice. The resources for asylum seekers are provided to help people who want to research, or take action in relation to, the legal situation of asylum seekers. Anyone using these resources should obtain advice from a registered migration agent or a practising lawyer. Legal advice is available from these places. There may be errors or omissions in the resources. Australian Lawyers for Human Rights Inc has attempted to ensure that the resources are current and accurate, but it is not responsible for the consequences of any errors or omissions.

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This page last updated 4th May 2004