Dealing with the Department

Based on the contribution of Michael Clothier, Accredited Immigration Law Specialist, as amended by Er-kai Wang, registered migration agent and Associate Lecturer at the ANU College of Law and current to 19 July 2018

NOTE: Readers should be aware that the Migration legislation changes frequently. Before using the information listed here, we recommend that you check if the law is still current by seeking advice from a migration agent or visiting the Department of Home Affairs' website.

Record-Keeping and Timeframes

Whenever you make contact with the Department you should keep a note of the time and the name of the officer with whom you spoke. Notes of the advice received from any officer should be kept. Copies of every document that is lodged with the Department should also be kept. Whatever application you make to Department, a file number will be allocated to it; whenever you contact or write to the Department this file number should be quoted.

Most application forms provide a space for you to give reasons in support of your application. These spaces are often not large enough to tell the complete story. Any further material you wish to put to the Department in support of your application should be attached to the application form.

Almost all applications take a long time to be processed by the Department. If you receive no response to your application for several months, this is not unusual and not a cause for worry. However, if your application is taking longer than the published global processing time for that visa see the website, you should first contact the Department to enquire as to the progress of your application.

If you do not receive a satisfactory explanation for the delay, then you may wish to contact your local Commonwealth member of parliament to make enquiries, or the Commonwealth Ombudsman if you believe there has been unreasonable delay.

Where to Apply

You may send your application, addressed to the Regional Director, to Department of Home Affairs, see Contacts and Resources.

Visa Application Charges

When applying for visas you need to pay the visa application charge ("VAC"). For some visas you only need to pay VAC once when you lodge the application. But for other visas, there may be a second instalment of VAC which you need to pay before the Department grants the visa. The cost of VACs changes from time to time. It is very important that you pay the correct amount when lodging the visa application, otherwise your application is invalid.

You also need to be aware how VACs are calculated, especially if there are multiple applicants who are either under or over the age of 18, as well as the surcharge rates if the payment is made by credit card or by PayPal.

For further information, see "Fees and charges for visas" which can be found online at

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