Migration Review Tribunal (MRT)
One of the features of Australia’s Immigration system is that we have a robust process that allows for the independent review by the MRT of decisions by DIBP to refuse any onshore visa application or any sponsored visa application. The MRT is an independent body that in simple terms takes another look at a visa refusal upon valid application for review.
The Presiding Member of the MRT and their tribunal staff reassesses the entire application and if they cannot make a favourable decision for an applicant on the papers provided invite the applicant to a hearing to allow them to make submissions and answer questions. This process is a low stress as anything of this sort can be; so it is stressful.
My point here is not to detail the MRT processes. My concern is that many people use this MRT system as a way to buy time and temporarily avoid having to depart. Now it is a basic right within the system to apply for review but where the application is essentially vexatious or has no prospect whatsoever of success the impact on genuine applicants can be quite significant. MRT waiting times for many classes of visa are significant and often these waiting times are substantially created by applications that have no merit.
Genuine couples waiting in the Partner/Family queue at the MRT suffer enormous stress and pain, Carers or those in urgent need of care go without and businesses cannot secure essential staff as many people just mess with the MRT system.
On my Blog many people begin with the words “I am on an MRT visa or I’ve applied to the MRT” and then go on to explain that they are buying time while they try to figure out what else they can do to be able to stay. Most know they cannot possibly win at the MRT and eventually find they have not further options onshore. In the end this is an ethical question for applicants and for that matter for migration agents and lawyers. For my part I feel very sorry when I see people suffering and waiting for much longer than necessary as applications with no merit get processed before they can have their day before the MRT.
To be fair many MRT applicants are quite poorly informed and may believe that their applications have some hope of success. What everyone needs to appreciate is that the MRT is bound by exactly the same Migration Act & Migration Regulations as DIBP. The MRT cannot in anyway disregard the law as it is written because they feel sorrow for an applicant for example.
I am tempted here to say ‘rinse and repeat’ as this system receives similar abuse to that outlined above. However the DIBP section that deals with requests to the Minister (Ministerial Intervention Unit) for a more favourable decision following first a DIBP refusal followed by an MRT/RRT refusal do not have to run with a request if it does not meet the Ministerial Guidelines. Many requests to the Minister do not get very far and as a consequence do not buy the person the time they are may have been led to believe it would. Also conditions faced by those who put a request to the Minister are significantly inferior to those afforded applicants to the MRT. Conditions only improve in this space if the Minister is actively considering the request – that is it seems to meet the Minister’s guidelines.
The basic principle here is that in certain circumstances the Minister has the power to set a decision aside and grant a more favourable decision. This whole very important and beneficial system is put at risk if huge numbers of people who do not meet the Minister’s guidelines abuse the system. It becomes so much harder for a person who meets the Minister’s guidelines to be noticed and dealt with fairly and in a timely manner when the people tasked with processing these requests have to deal with a tsunami of requests that have no merit. The system becomes steadily devalued and I cannot help but think that those who work in it must wonder why it is so easy to work the system in this way.
I guess my appeal, if that is the right word, is to not abuse these systems. Get good advice and only go ahead if there is a real prospect of success. In the end very few people who find themselves making worthless applications or requests succeed in finding that other application they can make onshore and many end up much worse off financially, physically and emotionally.