Section 57 Natural Justice
About Section 57
Section 57 of the Migration Act 1958 requires the Department of Home Affairs to allow visa applicants to comment and provide additional information if there’s a possibility of visa refusal. This process, encapsulated in the issuance of a Natural Justice Letter, is integral to ensuring fair administrative proceedings and upholding the principle of natural justice or procedural fairness.
Key Components of a Natural Justice Letter
- An ‘Invitation to Comment on [Adverse] Information’ indicating the case officer’s concerns about potential false, misleading, or fraudulent information in the visa application or supporting documents.
- Specific concerns or discrepancies identified by the Department that the applicant needs to address.
- The applicant must provide a clear, accurate, and thorough response that directly addresses the concerns raised.
- Caution is advised to avoid providing excessive or irrelevant information that could inadvertently weaken the applicant’s position.
Timeframe for Response
- Typically, the applicant is given 28 days to respond to the Natural Justice Letter.
- In certain situations, like immigration detention, the period might be shorter, e.g., 3 working days.
- Failure to respond within the stipulated timeframe allows the Delegate to decide on the application without further input, often leading to visa refusal.
- If the applicant successfully addresses the concerns raised in the Natural Justice Letter, providing accurate and comprehensive information, and effectively rectifies any discrepancies, this could lead to a positive decision, and the applicant may receive a notification of visa grant.
- If the applicant fails to adequately address the concerns, provides false or misleading information in their response, or if the Department’s initial concerns are substantiated, this could lead to a negative decision, and the applicant may receive a notification of visa refusal or cancellation.
- In severe cases, especially involving fraudulent documents or significant misrepresentation, not only may the visa be refused or cancelled, but the applicant may also face a re-entry ban (usually 12 months under Public Interest Criteria (PIC) 4020), affecting future visa applications.
- In certain situations, if the applicant realizes that the concerns raised are substantial and difficult to counter, they may consider strategically withdrawing their application. This move can be advised to avoid the potentially more severe consequences of having the application refused, such as a Section 48 bar or an exclusion period (re-entry ban).