Drowning in forms – Australian visas and the importance of lodging the right documents

Key Points
  • Most Australian visa applications require multiple documents as evidence
  • It’s not sufficient for an applicant to meet the required visa criteria, proof also needs to be provided to satisfy the Department
  • Forgetting or missing a required document can lead to a visa refusal, costing money and time


Australian Universities offer some of the best educational opportunities in the world, coupled with an enviable lifestyle. So it’s not surprising that in 2017 there were almost 800,000 international students studying in Australia. Australia’s migration system required each of these students to hold an appropriate visa.

With over 7 million temporary visas, and almost 190,000 permanent Australian visas granted in 2015/2016 (with more assessed and then refused) it’s not surprising that the Department of Home Affairs (the Department) enforces strict criteria about the documentation applicants are required to provide.

Generally the required documentation will be specified when a visa is being lodged. However, it is evident that many applicants are either unable to provide some or all of the required documents to support their case, or simply fail to do so. Although the Department can, in some circumstances, simply refuse a visa on the basis of missing documentation without first alerting the applicant, more usually a request to supply the relevant information is sent to the applicant or their representative. Even then, at times what the Department needs to make a decision is not supplied.

This is where things can go really wrong. It’s often not enough just to meet the requirements, you also have to PROVE that they have been met.

For example, a recent case saw a Graduate visa refused due to documents not being provided to the Department. This visa requires applicants to provide proof of Australian health insurance coverage WITH their visa application. Although the applicant had the required health insurance, the documentation was not provided at time of application and, even after the Department later requested the evidence, it was still not provided. The visa was refused and that decision was upheld by the Federal Circuit Court.

Although all this may seem to have been easily fixed at the outset, the complexity and stress of going through a visa application can mean that some of these simple steps get overlooked – sometimes with significant consequences.

Visas can be especially complex for inexperienced applicants and this is a situation where seeking the advice of a registered migration agent can assist. ​

Post by Najeh Marhaba

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