The IAA was established by the Migration and Maritime Powers Legislative Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Act 2014  which received Royal Assent on 15 December 2014 and which commenced on 18 April 2015.

The IAA is required to make decisions in accordance with the Migration Act 1958  and associated regulations.

The IAA is not bound by technicalities, legal forms or rules of evidence.