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Visa cancellations or refusals can have devastating consequences including indefinite immigration detention, removal from Australia, and the breaking-up of family units. One of the more devastating and unjust consequences is the effect of “one fails, all fails” provisions which cause the visa refusal of all family members in combined visa applications due to one applicant failing the character test.

Bernard Goh, of our Migration Team, recently successfully defended such a matter. Bernard and David Godwin of Counsel acted for a couple who both had visas refused, even though only the applicant husband failed the character test. The clients were unsuccessful at Administrative Appeals Tribunal, at first instance, to overturn the refusals. They then came to us for assistance. 

We commenced proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia to seek judicial review of the Tribunal’s decision. The Chief Justice subsequently directed that the matter be heard and determined by a Full Court. 

The Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs conceded before the matter proceeded to hearing that the Tribunal erred in the manner identified by our originating application. We successfully argued that the Tribunal was required to engage fully and meaningfully with expert witness evidence that was tendered and that the Tribunal’s failure to do so was material to the outcome of its review. We then obtained orders from the court quashing and remitting the initial Tribunal decision, and for the Tribunal (differently constituted) to hold another hearing to redetermine the matter according to law. 

At the remittal hearing, the Tribunal (differently constituted) overturned the initial visa refusal and our clients were allowed to remain in Australia. If the refusal was upheld, the applicant wife would have also been refused her visa. This is despite there being no adverse character findings against her. A full copy of the reported decision is available here:

Our Migration Team is able to assist in all manner of contested and litigious migration matters. This includes providing assistance and representation in visa, sponsorship or nomination refusal or cancellation matters at the primary decision-maker stage, merits review stage (Administrative Appeals Tribunal and Immigration Assessment Authority), and judicial review stage (Federal Court, Federal Circuit and Family Court, and High Court).

Please contact our team at and/or 03 6210 0090 if you require assistance.