When I was much younger (12/13), my parents had applied on my behalf for admission to an Australian school. Apparently, my visa was initially not approved. It was later approved but by then the school had withdrawn my application.

There was no interview. I did not visit an embassy or visa processing center. There are no stamps, records, documents, refusal letters or memory to show if the visa application was actually processed for it to be refused. We don't even remember if the passport was submitted at all (we may have used an agent but simply don't remember that either). The visa that was approved (or was the decision changed?) has also not been stamped. How do I find out if I was actually refused or not?

I ask because some visa application forms ask for this information. There were no biometrics and I don't think I signed any form (I was a minor). I think it is quite ridiculous to ask for information on visa application forms that is more than 10 years old. If you miss something--you risk being flagged for lying.

  • 3
    You might be able to make a freedom of information request
    – mts
    Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 15:36
  • Do you need to declare refusals while you were a minor? Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 20:31
  • You’ve edited in completely new questions. That’s not a good idea; one, because a question should only ask one question, and two, because there already are answers that now look incomplete because they don’t address the added part. Please undo your edit and ask new questions in, well, new questions (one each).
    – chirlu
    Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 16:13

2 Answers 2


I would suggest you reply "Application 15 years ago, result unknown" or something like that, and put a short explanation, similar to that in your question, in the 'other comments' box at the end. As you say, bureaucracies really dislike people lying to them, but nobody would expect you to recall these details, particularly as you were a minor at the time, And if the officials do want to find out the result (which I would think unlikely), they can always go back to their own archives.

  • This would be equivalent to answering "yes", since it will automatically invite extra scrutiny from visa officials.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 9:42
  • 2
    I've made plenty of visa applications (but not to Australia) and at the time of the applications I genuinely didn't remember (all approved). This just came to me. I travel extensively and I don't remember every immigration detail. I believe officials should at least put stamps in passports for future reference. That's what I look at to fill in most information.
    – user58558
    Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 9:48
  • 6
    @JonathanReez: Extra scrutiny from somebody who knows this is an unusual case is much better than a computer flag saying 'Applicant lied about previous application'. Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 11:49
  • 1
    @TimLymington sure, but I assume OP wants to be sure rather than answer ' not sure' every time.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 12:02
  • Well then he can choose to say no and get whacked and refused if they have information showing otherwise. It's his prerogative. Clearly he knows there was some issue of some sort, coming clean is the best thing to do. But then of course people have differing opinions. Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 16:01

You could file a FOI request which would take a while.

Ultimately in this case you should weigh the risks and make your own determination. Many countries have an outright ban for a number of years if you provide false information to immigration in order to obtain a travel benefit. For the USA it is a permanent bar, for the UK it is a ten year bar and for Australia apparently 3 years.

For Australia

According to new laws, anyone who submits fraudulent information with a visa application will face harsher penalties, including being banned from entering Australia for up to three years. An existing visa will also be cancelled if fraudulent information was found to be involved.


Certain cancellations can result in even more severe penalties, and it’s possible that you could be permanently banned from Australia (although these situations are rare and are generally the result of a serious crime).

Immigration rules can be very harsh and sometimes appear arbitrary with offenders getting heavily and disproportionately punished. It is best to err on the side of caution and provide a hint that you previously had an indeterminate immigration snafu, particularly when you have a strong profile. Just attach a small explanation. Basically you have more to lose than gain if they find out and choose to view it as fraudulent. In your favor, you were a minor at the time.

  • Sounds reasonable. In the case of the USA, they don't ask this question at all on the application form. If they ask at the interview, I can clarify. They also seem to have a more strict criteria for what counts as fraud. As for the UK, I could bank on them asking for clarification in case they find out and give me the benefit of doubt being a minor at the time. As for Australia, it would be better to avoid making an application until a FOI querry since they're the most likely to cause problems. However, another problem if I answer yes is why I mentioned no in previous applications.
    – user58558
    Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 18:14

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