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

Contents of the 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.
Response Expectations:
  • 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

Standard Period:
  • Typically, the applicant is given 28 days to respond to the Natural Justice Letter.
Variations Based on Circumstances:
  • 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.


Visa Grant Notification:
  • 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.
Visa Refusal or Cancellation Notification:
  • 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.
Strategic Withdrawal:
  • 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).
It’s important to note that each case is unique and the specific circumstances will determine the most appropriate course of action. Professional legal advice is highly recommended to navigate this complex process and ensure the best possible outcome.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is a Section 57 Natural Justice Letter?
    A Section 57 Natural Justice Letter is a notification from the Department of Home Affairs, inviting visa applicants to comment on information that may lead to visa refusal.

  2. Why did I receive a Section 57 Natural Justice Letter?
    You received this letter because the Department has concerns or doubts regarding the information provided in your visa application, and it’s giving you a chance to clarify or correct that information.

  3. What are the common reasons for receiving this letter?
    Common reasons include suspected false, misleading, or incomplete information in your visa application or supporting documents.

  4. How long do I have to respond to a Section 57 letter?
    The standard timeframe is 28 days from the date you receive the letter, but this can vary based on individual circumstances.

  5. What happens if I don’t respond within the timeframe?
    Failure to respond in time may lead to a decision being made without your further input, potentially resulting in visa refusal or cancellation.

  6. Can I get an extension on the deadline for my response?
    Extensions are not commonly granted. You should strive to meet the initial deadline or contact a legal professional for advice if you believe you have a valid reason for an extension.

  7. What should my response include?
    Your response should directly address the concerns raised in the letter, providing clear and factual information, and including any relevant supporting documents.

  8. Should I consult a professional for my response?
    Yes, consulting with immigration lawyers or registered migration agents is highly recommended to ensure your response is comprehensive and aligns with legal expectations.

  9. Can I ignore minor issues pointed out in the letter?
    No, it’s important to address all issues, no matter how minor they may seem, as they contribute to the overall assessment of your application.

  10. How detailed should my response be?
    Your response should be detailed enough to thoroughly address each concern but focused and concise to avoid unnecessary information that could complicate your application.

  11. What are the potential consequences of a poorly written response?
    A poorly written response can lead to misunderstandings, further complicating your application, and increasing the chances of visa refusal.

  12. Can the letter lead to immediate visa refusal or cancellation?
    The letter itself is not a notice of refusal or cancellation but indicates that the Department is considering it. Your response can influence the final decision.

  13. What if the concerns in the letter are based on a misunderstanding?
    If the concerns are based on a misunderstanding, clearly explain the situation and provide evidence to support your clarification.

  14. What is the role of ‘Procedural Fairness’ in this process?
    Procedural Fairness ensures that you have the opportunity to present your side before any adverse decision is made, aligning with the principles of natural justice.

  15. Can responding to the letter positively change the outcome of my visa application?
    Yes, a well-prepared response can address the Department’s concerns effectively, potentially leading to a positive outcome for your visa application.

  16. Is it possible to withdraw my visa application after receiving this letter?
    Yes, you can withdraw your application, but it’s best to consult with a legal professional to understand the implications of withdrawal.

  17. What is a ‘Section 48 bar’, and how does it relate to this process?
    A Section 48 bar restricts further visa applications if your current application is refused or canceled while you are in Australia. It may be mentioned as a consequence in your Natural Justice Letter.

  18. What if I’ve provided all true and correct information in my application?
    If you’ve provided accurate information, use your response to reinforce the truthfulness of your application, providing any additional evidence if necessary.

  19. How can an immigration lawyer help with a Section 57 letter?
    An immigration lawyer can provide expert guidance on crafting an effective response, ensuring your reply addresses all concerns and is legally sound.

  20. Where can I find more resources or support for responding to a Section 57 letter?
    You can find more resources through official government websites, legal advice centers, or by consulting with registered migration agents and immigration lawyers.