The Character test

When you apply for an Australian Visa, you must prove that you are of good character.  In simple terms, this means you have no substantial or serious criminal record. Check out our video on this issue or read on below.

Who doesn't pass the character test?

Most importantly, people with substantial criminal record. This applies to anyone who has ever been convicted to a term of imprisonment of 12 months or more. It doesn’t matter if the sentence was suspended. It doesn’t matter that the visa applicant hasn’t actually spent a single day in jail. If the sentence was for at least 12 months imprisonment, that amounts to substantial criminal record.

In addition, the Migration legislation specifically refers to some crimes that are so serious that the applicant will not pass the character test. For example:

  • people smuggling, trafficking, or similar serious crimes
  • sexually based offences

Character test failed - not all is lost

Seriousness of criminal history

When Immigration (or on appeal the Administrative Appeals Tribunal) looks at an applicant’s criminal history, these are some of the considerations they take into account:

  • serious, violent and/or sexual crimes are viewed most seriously;
  • crimes committed against vulnerable people (minors, elderly and disabled) or government representatives and officials are serious;
  • the frequency of a person’s offending and whether there is any trend of increasing seriousness;
  • any history of reoffending;
  • if the offence was committed in another country, whether the offence is classified as an offence in Australia.

Risks to the Australian Community

In addition to the seriousness of the criminal offending, Immigration will take into account other factors as well, namely the interests of the Australian community. For example, they will look at what is in the best interests of minor children in Australia affected by the decision.

We can help you get over the line

In many instances, it is possible to provide evidence to the Government which proves that you do not pose any risk to the community, and it is appropriate to grant a visa. Every case is different, but if you contact us, we’ll listen to your story and will tell you if we can get evidence to support your position.

5 Practical tips

  1. For people with Australian criminal history, the starting point for Immigration will often be the transcript of the earlier criminal trial, and the sentencing remarks of the judge. Accordingly, when we advise about the prospects of a positive visa decision, we would want to obtain and consider these transcripts as well.
  2. The fact that a person had not previously engaged in criminal or other serious misconduct may well be taken into account to show that the risk to the Australian community is or may be low.
  3. In relation to the risk of reoffending, Immigration will take into account records held by prisons including statements by corrections officers. Time spent in classes whilst in prison, or helping other prisoners to rehabilitate will be taken into account in favour of the applicant.
  4. Evidence from experts may also be relevant, for example a report can be obtained from a clinical psychologist about whether the applicant is likely to reoffend.
  5. When considering the interests of children, the applicant will need to supply evidence about any regular contact being maintained with their children. For example, being involved in preparing meals for children, taking them to and from school, helping with school work and so on are all important. This is especially the case when the other parent runs a business or has other commitments – meaning it is in the children’s interests that the applicant stay in Australia so that his/her children can be better looked after.
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