The Single Biggest Differentiator Between Visa Approval and Visa Refusal

I have a good friend who is a bit of a scatterbrain. He hardly ever RSVPs to events he’s invited to. 

When he does come, he always arrives late.   

He once called to say he couldn’t meet me for an arranged night out because he had forgotten to renew his driver’s license. 

Last year I organised a beach weekend away with a bunch of friends. When I put the call out for help, he put his hands up, insisting we could rely on him to bring the beer. 

You know what happened next, right? A very sober weekend.  

Now, in the grand scheme of things, these are pretty small issues. We can always buy more beer, right? 

But if the stakes are higher than drinking on a beach holiday, it matters.   

In our previous article we shared 12 different mistakes that can kill your application. In this article we’re going to talk more about a mindset that is without question the single biggest differentiator between those visa applicants who get approved and those who get refused: disorganisation.

Don’t worry – I know you’re not reading this for a motivational pep-talk about your “mindset”. I’ll leave that to Oprah. Instead, as always, I’m here to give you concrete, actionable advice.

Disorganisation is a villain with 1000 faces, so below I have identified the most common ones that I have encountered among people who get refused.

Aiming To Do the Minimum Effort Necessary  

Being a bit laid back in life can be a real positive.  

Some of the best lawyers I’ve known have been unflappable – in the face of genuine disaster they’ve been able to stay calm with the assurance that everything will be okay. 

While this attitude can certainly help in a disaster situation, sometimes a little sense of urgency helps ensure get important life stuff gets done.  

We’ve talked before in previous articles about how the Immigration website can be a bit misleading about the ease of the visa process. One could be forgiven for believing that all one needs do is complete a form and attach a few basic documents.

Don’t fall into this trap.  

As we said in our last article, if an Immigration officer thinks your application looks a bit light on evidence, they’re not obligated to ask you for information to fill the gaps.  

They can just refuse it outright. 

Think about each question in the form. Think about every single visa requirement.  And really go to town with documentary evidence to support everything you’re claiming to be. 

Remember, this isn’t a slab of Tooheys. It’s your life.  Or your business. Give it more than the minimum. 

Not Providing Documents at the Right Time 

Provide certain documents too early, and they might expire before they can be of use to your application. But provide other documents too late, and you might have no application at all.  

Some visa application requirements must be met at the time of lodgment, and others at the time of decision. 

But which is when?

And when is which?

It can be tough to know if you’re looking at the Immigration website on its own. This stuff is often in the Regulations or Act. Or it might be in the Policy, which is available to immigration lawyers but not to members of the public – a bit unfair, but our immigration system favours the well-organised and well-advised, not fairness.  

As an example, if you’re lodging a TSS nomination, you need to show you’ve tested the local labour market. But when do you need to provide evidence of this? At the time the nomination is lodged.  

Like, immediately as it’s lodged.  

And there is absolutely no wriggle room on this – if it’s not attached, you can’t provide it later. The application’s dead in the water. 

If you need to provide evidence of Competent English, this generally needs to be provided at time of lodgment.  But Functional English? Usually at time of decision.   

And what about the skill requirement? This is usually time of decision criteria, but if you need to provide a skills assessment, that thing better be good to go at the time of lodgment.

Gets a bit confusing, right?  It’s important to be across this stuff.  And if you’re not sure? You could try providing everything upfront. This has its pitfalls – like I said, many different types of documents can expire – but if you’re not on top of the regulations and you don’t have professional help, this may be your best bet. 

Not Providing Consistent Information or Evidence  

Nothing raises a red flag quite like inconsistent information. So, everything you provide to Immigration needs to be picked through with a fine-toothed comb.  Even the smallest inconsistency can open a pandora’s box. 

For example: if you’re applying for a TSS visa, do the duties in the position description you’re providing match those in the CV?  Do they line up with the duties in the advert for Labour Market Testing (LMT)? 

And do the dates of employment in the CV match the employment references?  Will the dates match tax records if anyone checks?  As we wrote in a previous article, Immigration and the tax office can – and do – ‘data match’ these days, so there really are no secrets. 

Also keep in mind your visa conditions. If you’re coming into Australia as the holder of a tourist visa, you need to look like a tourist.  And we don’t mean a Hawaiian shirt and passport lanyard around your neck.

Don’t be checking in on Facebook at the airport with “ciao forever Italia!”, and maybe rethink packing your steel-toed construction boots when a pair of flip-flops would be more consistent with your stated intention of a break from work.

Think hard, too, about information you’ve provided with previous visa applications. If, for instance, you’re not sure about the dates you put in a statement about your criminal convictions in your previous application, you should make a Freedom of Information application to check your immigration lawyer in Australia file.

Be Really Clear with Your Supporting Evidence 

A disorganised application will make your case officer work.  Your case officer doesn’t want to work harder than s/he has to, so s/he’s prone to missing things when they are difficult to find. 

So, if you’re lodging a Sponsorship application for your business, don’t provide your Profit & Loss statement at the end of a 24 page document that also includes your Lease Agreement and Trust Deed. 

If the location of the Profit and Loss Statement is not blindingly obvious, don’t assume your case officer will go looking for it.  S/he might find it easier to just refuse your application because there is “no evidence” of annual turnover. 

While we’re on documents, how is your case officer going to understand the relevance of what you’re attaching if you don’t label documents clearly?  When you scan that BAS to your email, rename it before you attach it to your application so your case officer knows what s/he’s looking at. If you don’t think it’s worth your time to relabel it from the random name your scanner gave it, like SHF38fFH.pdf, you might as well just label it RefuseMeNow.pdf. 

Readmore The Ultimate Guide to Visas, COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and the Australian Border