Can I get a refund for a visa application?

Image of a keyboard with a refund button. Source:

Can you get a refund of your visa application charge? As with many immigration issues, the answer is ‘it depends’. This article looks at the issue of refunds and whether or not getting one is possible.

It’s natural to want a refund

Visa applications can cost you a lot of money. The fees that you pay for your applications do not include your migration agent or immigration lawyer fees. So by the time you’ve found a lawyer to work with, completed an application, and then paid the fees required by the Government, you can be out of pocket by a substantial amount.

When your visa application is unsuccessful, refused, or cancelled, the idea of losing all that money can be heartbreaking. You might not have the financial capacity to try again. You might need to go into debt – or further into debt – in order to have another go. You might have wagered all your time and energy, in addition to your money, just to try in the first place.

Wanting to get a refund is only natural, especially if you believe that you did everything possible and are now staring at a refusal.

Applying for a visa is risky: Personally, and financially

The uncomfortable truth is that there is no certainty in visa applications. There’s not even any certainty in citizenship applications.

Applying for a visa is an undeniably risky activity. Nobody can tell you whether your application will be successful.

Once your application is lodged, all decisions rest with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Your refund application is considered by the people who take your money

Your application fees are set by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, and they can change. Those fees will be explained to you by your immigration lawyer. Your immigration lawyer’s fees are in addition to DIBP and paid separately.

But it is important to understand that, because application fees are set by DIBP, whether or not they are refunded is also determined by them. Remember, the people that you pay are the people who decide whether your refund is possible.

Knowing at the beginning that there is financial as well as personal risk involved, is important. By going into a visa application, you are asking the Australian Government to consider your case. You are not paying money for an outcome. The difference seems small, but it is a critical element of deciding to apply in the first place.

Know and assess your risks before you apply

Before you apply for a visa, consider all of the risks. Think about your mental and emotional health and what that would be like if your application was unsuccessful. Think about what it would do you to financially in the same situation. Consider whether you could afford to apply again, or to request a review. And then, think about the risk of what would happen to you if you were unsuccessful a second time.

It sounds like all doom and gloom, but the truth is that you need to be prepared for all situations. Being capable of understanding what could possibly happen is important if you are saving money for such a big change in your life. Make sure you have enough to cover every eventuality, not just the ideal eventuality.

When you are weighing these risks, it’s a very good idea to do it in collaboration with an immigration lawyer. A good immigration lawyer will be able to help you weigh them appropriately. For example, in your list of risks might be, applying for an occupation that is no longer listed. A good lawyer will be able to remove that risk for you, because he or she will have all of that information available. It’s a waste of time considering everything if there is a fast way of eliminating a risk from your plan.

Can I get a refund on my visa application?

Getting a refund is not impossible. What you need to know is that refunds are only available in limited and specific circumstances. Amongst other things, they include:

  • your death
  • payment over and above what the actual fee is
  • payment when no payment is required or due
  • accidental double payment
  • having a business sponsorship refused
  • Departmental errors
  • Your errors
  • and so on.

Note that you are not entitled to a refund if you lodge an application and then:

  • decide that you want to change your mind
  • claim it was a mistake to have applied after your application was unsuccessful
  • do not satisfy a criterion for a grant.

Your refund may, however, be mandatory in situations where:

  • your application was unnecessary at the time it was made
  • the Department made a mistake
  • you die before a decision is made.

How decisions about refunds are made

Decisions about refunds are discretionary, but they can also be mandatory. This means that the Department will consider your application for a refund, or must refund your money to you. It will read any supporting documentation. And then it will decide whether a refund is available to you.

This is why getting expert’s help is so important. It’s not just about getting the application right. It’s also about making sure that your money works for you, and that you aren’t in a position where you have lost it later on.

Work with a lawyer to make an informed decision

Contact us to discuss your prospective visa application, and the risks that are involved. We can help you weigh them, to find out if it’s a risk that you want to take. And if you do, then we will get your application right the first time that you apply. Contact us now >>

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