What is the Character Requirement?
Each person that wishes to enter or remain in Australia they must meet the ‘character requirement’ as defined under Section 501 of the Migration Act 1958.
Section 501 of the Migration Act 1958 requires visa applicants to be of good character. When the Department of Immigration & Border Protection is assessing your application against the character requirement they are required to take the following into consideration:
- If you have a substantial criminal record, meaning that you have been sentenced to 12 months or more in prison, or you have multiple sentences that combined are more than 12 months in prison. The legislation includes suspended sentences as they are considered prison sentences.
- If you have been convicted of escaping from immigration detention, or convicted for an offence that you committed while you were in immigration detention, during an escape from immigration detention or after an escape but before you were taken into immigration detention again.
- You are, or have previously been a member of an organisation or group or have been in association with a group, person or organisation that the Minister reasonably suspects of involvement in criminal conduct.
- If the Minister reasonably suspects you have been involved in people smuggling, people trafficking, genocide, a war crime, crime’s against humanity, a crime involving torture or slavery, or a crime that is considered of serious international concern, whether or not you have been convicted of such an offence.
- If you past or present criminal or general conduct shows that you are not of good character
- If there is a risk that while you are in Australia you would engage in criminal conduct, harass, molest, intimidate or stalk another person, vilify a segment of the Australian community, incite discord in the Australian community or a segment of it, be a danger to the Australian community or a segment of it
- If you have been convicted of, or found guilty or had a charge proven for one or more sexually based offences involving a child
- If you are subject to an adverse assessment by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation
- If you are subject to an Interpol notice, from which it is reasonable to infer that you are a direct or an indirect risk to the Australian community or a segment of the Australian community.
How can you meet the character requirement when applying for an Australian visa?
For certain visa subclasses it is a requirement to provide national police certificates (known as National Clearance Certificates in some countries) for each country you have lived in for 12 months or more, in the last 10 years since turning 16 years of age.
For other visa subclasses, it can be a discretionary requirement that a case officer may request you to provide police certificates.
What are my options if I do not meet the Character Requirement for an Australian visa?
If you are holding an Australian visa, applying for an Australian visa, or are considering applying for an Australian visa and you do not meet the character requirement as outlined above the Department of Immigration may refuse to grant you a visa or your visa can be cancelled if you are unable to meet the character requirement.
In some cases, a Character Waiver may be available to allow you to provide the Department of Immigration information surrounding your circumstances. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection will consider a range of factors including, the protection of the Australian community, the best interests of any children in Australia, Australia’s international legal obligations and your age, health, level of education, business, and family and community ties in Australia.
If you are concerned about meeting the character test for an Australian visa application, or have been issued with a notice of cancellation based on the character requirement it is important you act fast as in most cases you have limited time to provide a response.
Ethos Migration has assisted a large range of applicants with successfully obtaining character waiver’s for issues surrounding their past criminal conduct.