Mind Your Manners, Please! Communicating with your case officer

Recently my 6 year old’s behaviour has been grating on me, and simultaneously entertaining me.  Her name is Suraya. Examples of some of Suraya’s cheekiness are, “Give me that phone, missy!”, “Darrrling, I’m not going to bed Jennifer darrrling.”   Many times she has made me laugh as I inwardly admire her humour and confidence. I imagine her growing up to be a confident woman and of course that pleases me.  But usually I have admonished Suraya because it is just not right for a 6 year old to talk to an adult, let alone her mother like that.  For starters she should call me ‘Mum’ or ‘Mummy’.    This reminds me of my work, and how essential it is I talk to case officers ‘delegates of the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection’ in the right and proper way.

Absolutely there have been times when I’ve exclaimed to myself “How dare that decision be made without regard to this evidence!!”, “Clearly this case officer has no understanding of the policy!!” But, acting with regard to the best interests of my clients, and with regard to the skills and expertise of the vast majority of case officers,  I must only speak to the case officer respectfully. This might sound obvious but it is surprising how many people expect case officers to grant visas and ‘do their job’ for their own benefit.   Some would say that’s very right, however I say it is better to be very respectful and polite.

If you are not being represented, please be mindful of this advice as you speak with case officers from immigration. I will paste an extract from one of my submission letters so that you get the idea.  In it I am respectfully asking a case officer to consider a decision made at the Migration Review Tribunal which could mean a complex partner visa application might be granted.

We humbly request that much weight be placed on the Tribunal’s reasoning in the decision making process and see that there are a significant number of financial documents to show …

I am being polite just to ask them if they would even consider using some information in their decision making process. I’m not going to tell them that they must consider it.   Even though I am aware of this area of law (below), I am not going to arrogantly point it out to the case officer


Minister(Minister can be a delegate of the Minister ie; your case officer)must have regard to all information in application
(1) The Minister must, in deciding whether to grant or refuse to grant a visa, have regard to all of the information in the application.

The following is very important.


Further information may be given
(1) Until the Minister has made a decision whether to grant or refuse to grant a visa, the applicant may give the Minister any additional relevant information and the Minister must have regard to that information in making the decision.

(2) Subsection (1) does not mean that the Minister is required to delay making a decision because the applicant might give, or has told the Minister that the applicant intends to give, further information.

In short this means once you have submitted your application the case officer is not obliged to ask for any further information to show that your relationship 1) meets the visa requirements and 2) is not fake.  If you inadvertently haven’t submitted enough information they have every right to refuse the visa application (potentially a nearly $7k loss for partner visa applicants) without affording you any further chance to provide documents.  I go into much more detail in a guide I have provided free of charge (http://www.jenniferkhan.com/giveaway)  It is one of many areas of law that shows the position case officers hold, and subsequently that they are to be spoken with respectfully if you want things to go your way.   Which leads me to the arrogance and dangerous assumptions of some visa applicants.

I do cringe when I hear people assume their visa will be granted easily. This leads to people speaking the wrong way to immigration officers and to their hard working representatives after which you definitely wont be receiving any favours!  There is no easy case.  Even if an applicant has 100 pieces of evidence to show immigration that their visa application (any kind) is real it doesn’t necessarily mean your case officer will think its real.   Look at this Tribunal decision,  (Administrative Appeals Tribunal Case 1511362, 24 February, 2017), absolutely devastating to the couple involved.

Tribunal cannot be satisfied that the sponsor is not simply imitating a role in the household simply to assist the application…

…Tribunal has had regard to the English Oxford Dictionary (on-line) definitions of “sham” and “false”. In relation to persons, “sham” is defined as “a person who pretends to be someone or something they are not”… “false” is defined as “made to imitate something in order to deceive” or “not according with truth or fact”

The Tribunal considers that the relationship presented to the Tribunal is a sham and a false one because the Tribunal has formed the view that the applicant is, at least on her part, pretending and imitating a relationship in order to acquire a visa that she would otherwise not be eligible for.

The Tribunal believed that all the documents submitted with the Partner Visa applciation were either fake or used to deceive.  Yes – it is difficult to establish otherwise.  This is further reason to speak respectfully and politely to an immigration officer.

If a case officer does not believe that your relationship is real they have no obligation to provide you a chance to show it:

 Minister for Immigration & Multicultural Affairs; ex parte Durairajasingham [2000] 168 ALR 407 at [67]: If the primary decision maker has stated that he or she does not believe a particular witness, no detailed reasons need to be given as to why that particular witness was not believed.

Having been involved with immigration processes for years I sometimes forget that many grossly underestimate the complexity of the visa process.  Yes, some people do obtain visas easily (what they perceive to be an easy process) and many times I have seen people devastated at a refusal decision where they, their family and friends had no doubt that they would receive a visa grant.

I found it heartbreaking when genuine couples show me a visa refusal decision.   When you start any visa application process it helps to understand and remember the position of the case officer assessing your visa application. If you are unrepresented and need to communicate with your case officer please keep this advice in mind.

More info about refusals:

A little bit more about case officers:

But definitely download the giveaway I mentioned: