Visitor Visa Refusal – AAT Case – 2205136 (Migration) [2023] (austlii.edu.au)

In this case, the central issue under consideration pertains to whether clause 600.211 of the relevant immigration regulations is met for each of the visa applicants. This clause requires the Immigration Tribunal to ascertain whether the visa applicants genuinely intend to stay temporarily in Australia for the specific purpose for which the visa is being sought. This determination hinges on several key factors: the applicants’ compliance with past visa conditions, their intention to adhere to future visa conditions, and any other pertinent considerations that may bear relevance to their visa applications.

It’s essential to note that the visa applicants in question are seeking visas within the Sponsored Family stream, with the primary objective of visiting their respective family members who are residing in Australia. There is no indication that any of the five visa applicants are pursuing visas for business or medically related purposes.

Given that none of the visa applicants have entered Australia previously, evaluating their compliance with the conditions of their last substantive visa or any subsequent bridging visa is not applicable in this context. The absence of prior entries into Australia precludes the Tribunal from assigning any weight, either positively or negatively, to their compliance with past visa conditions.

The Tribunal’s assessment also entails an examination of whether each visa applicant possesses the intention to adhere to the conditions to which the Subclass 600 visa would be subject. These conditions, as outlined in clause 600.612, encompass restrictions such as not engaging in employment in Australia, not undertaking study or training exceeding a duration of three months, not being entitled to a substantive visa other than a protection visa while remaining in Australia, and not remaining in Australia beyond the permitted stay.

Prior to the hearing held on February 9, 2023, the Tribunal diligently reviewed all relevant departmental files, documents, and information submitted for the purposes of the visa review. Importantly, the Tribunal noted that no additional evidence had been provided since the original applications for review were lodged on specific dates in April 2022.

In January 2023, the Tribunal issued invitations to both review applicants for hearings concerning the five visa applicants, all scheduled for February 9, 2023. Consent was obtained from both review applicants to conduct joint hearings, which the Tribunal deemed suitable given the similarities among the five visa applicants and their applications.

During the hearing, extensive evidence was presented, shedding light on the family’s background, their business interests, and the primary motivations behind their intended visit to Australia. The applicants articulated their strong connections to Pakistan, including their business commitments and familial ties.

For instance, one of the review applicants affirmed his role in running a well-established business in Pakistan for several decades, providing evidence of his significant financial assets and involvement in the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Similarly, the applicants stressed their deep-rooted connections to their home area in Quetta, Pakistan, and their desire to visit their family member residing in Australia, who has been away for 15 years.

Furthermore, the applicants underscored the temporal nature of their visit, expressing their intention to return to Pakistan promptly, as they have significant responsibilities there, including business operations, property holdings, and various financial commitments. They mentioned their plans to visit Australia during a quieter period for the family’s business.

In addition to this, the Tribunal considered country information pertaining to Pakistan, which highlighted security concerns and risks for individuals of Hazara ethnicity living in the Quetta region. The information indicated that Hazaras in this area faced a high degree of danger, particularly from militant groups, on the basis of their ethnic and sectarian identity. These threats had resulted in attacks, including bombings, targeted killings, and other forms of violence.

Furthermore, the country information revealed that Hazaras who leave the relative safety of their enclaves within Quetta, even for essential reasons such as medical treatment, were exposed to grave risks. The broader context indicated that terrorist attacks, sectarian conflicts, and economic hardships were prevalent in Pakistan, with particular severity in Balochistan, where Quetta is located.

This detailed country information was presented to the applicants during the hearing, and they were afforded the opportunity to provide responses or clarifications. The applicants, however, did not provide any information that would cast doubt on this country information.

Considering all the evidence presented and the country information available, the Tribunal reached a conclusion. It determined that all five visa applicants faced significant risks and dangers due to their Hazara ethnicity and their geographical location in Quetta, Pakistan. These circumstances presented compelling motivations for the applicants to seek asylum and protection in Australia if they were to arrive onshore.

In light of these findings, the Tribunal rendered its decision. It affirmed the initial decisions not to grant visitor visas to the five applicants, based on its determination that they did not genuinely intend to stay temporarily in Australia for the purpose specified in their visa applications, as required by clause 600.211 of the immigration regulations.

In summary, this case illustrates the intricate process of assessing visa applications, taking into account various factors such as compliance with past and future visa conditions, personal circumstances, and country-specific risks. The Tribunal’s decision, grounded in a thorough evaluation of evidence and country information, underscores the complex nature of immigration proceedings and the delicate balance between visa approval and the safeguarding of national security and international obligations.

Written by Ross Ahmadzai

8 Sep, 2023

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