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Character Issues and Visa Refusals

All applicants for an Australian visa that are over the age of 18 years old should meet the character requirements. What is the definition of the character requirements and how do you meet the requirements?

Applicants may fail to meet the character requirements within any of the grounds grouped into five broad categories:

  • substantial criminal record;
  • conviction for immigration detention offences;
  • association with a person or a group of people suspected of engaging in criminal conduct;
  • past and present criminal or general conduct; and
  • significant risk of particular types of future conduct.

Substantial criminal record

For the purposes of the character test, a person has a ‘substantial criminal record’ if they have been:

  • sentenced to death or to imprisonment for life;
  • sentenced to imprisonment for 12 months or more;
  • sentenced to two or more terms of imprisonment where the total of these terms is two years or more; or
  • acquitted of an offence on the grounds of unsoundness of mind or insanity, and as a result they have been detained in a facility or institution. 

A person who has a ‘substantial criminal record’ will automatically fail the character test, regardless of any mitigating factors which affected their offending. However, mitigating factors may be taken
into account, when the decision-maker is considering whether to exercise the discretion to refuse or cancel the person’s visa.

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Conviction for immigration detention offences

An applicant will fail the character test if they have been convicted of any offence which was committed while the applicant was in immigration detention, or during or after an escape from immigration detention, before being re-detained. Also, an escape from immigration detention is itself an offence which will result in the person failing the character test.

The above will result in a visa being refused or cancelled, even if the offence itself is not serious enough to warrant a sentence of 12 months’ imprisonment (or any period of imprisonment).

Association with a person or a group of people suspected of engaging in criminal conduct

An applicant will be unlikely to pass the character test if they had or have an association with someone who is involved in criminal activity.

To determine ‘an association’ the following factors may be considered:

Past and present criminal or general conduct

When considering this, the Department will take the following into account:

Please note that in considering this broader view of character, the decision-maker should take into account all relevant circumstances, including evidence of rehabilitation and any relevant periods of good conduct.

Significant risk of particular types of future conduct

An applicant will not pass the character test if there is a significant risk that, while in Australia, the applicant would:

How We Can Help

Even if an applicant does not pass the character test, it may still be possible to obtain a visa, or to keep your visa if it was cancelled based on character grounds (through a revocation request).

The Department has the power to decide whether there are sufficient reasons why your visa should still be granted, or not be cancelled. There are a number of factors which can affect this decision and a variety of circumstances that must be taken into account.

If you have character related issues, contact All Access Migration today and we will assist you in determining any possible solutions that may be available to you to gain a successful grant of your visa or to avoid cancellation even where character issues may be present. Our team of professionals will help you to establish and prepare evidence to be submitted to support your application.

Enquire about Character Issues and Visa Refusals

Brisbane Office

1300 245 756

50 McDougall Street,
Milton, Brisbane, QLD, 4064

Gold Coast Office

1300 245 756

Levels 5 & 9, Corporate Centre One,
2 Corporate Court,
Bundall, QLD, 4217

Sydney Office

1300 245 756

Level 3,
1 Castlereagh Street,
Sydney, NSW, 2000


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