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Overview of the Character Requirement

The Migration Act 1958 under Section 501 sets out the character requirements for people applying for visas and citizenship and also the cancellation grounds to cancel visas and citizenships. The Department uses ‘The Character Test’ which is an extensive list of criteria with the below two most common grounds the Department uses to refuse or cancel visas/citizenship.

Substantial Criminal Record

In simple terms the Department considers any applicant who has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 12 months or more as having a ‘substantial criminal record’ regardless of how long ago they were sentenced. To have a substantial criminal record a person does not actually have to have served time in prison.

This includes suspended sentences and situations where a person is either acquitted of an offence due to mental health issues or found not fit to please in relation to an offence but nevertheless found to have committed the crime and as a result was detained in a facility or institution.

Past and Present Conductt

The purpose of this criteria is to cover conduct that might not meet the criminal thresholds noted previously but nonetheless is a concern to the Australian public.

Departmental officers must consider both past and present criminal or general conduct and the conduct must be a reflection of the persons enduring moral character over a continued period of time.

The Department will also consider good conduct during the relevant periods.

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Why Choose Ethos Migration Lawyers?


Ethos Migration Lawyers work solely in Immigration Law and have extensive experience in assisting clients with complex character related visa and citizenship issues


We will always be available for you whenever you have a question, request an update or would like to talk.


We make sure that all our advice & updates are transparent with you at all times. You will always know exactly what is going on.


Our aim is to get you the best possible result, and we do this by being ethical. We would never represent you for something you are not eligible for.

Real Reviews From Real Clients

Ethos Migration lawyers has a 4.9 star rating from over 220+ Google reviews.

Oliver Smith


Ethos Migration Lawyers are simply the only immigration Lawyers to use in Australia! Both personally and professionally, I have used many agents over the years and Ethos stand head and shoulders above the rest.

What makes them different is there ‘care factor’ they genuinely look to provide the best solution and they are VERY well informed. Communication is excellent and they are competitively priced. If you are looking for the most accurate migration advice with a firm that will walk you through each and every step, use Ethos!

Bimal Abe


It was a pleasure dealing with Peter from Ethos. Always got back to me promptly on any questions I had and fixed any issues. Happy to recommend Ethos!

Lis Maria Conde


Really personalized and professional services. I was able to call them and consult about the implications of my life circumstances on my visa application process and they would advise me with the best course of action. I trust them. I still have to apply for residency and will definitely use their services again.

Suraj K


The team at Ethos Migration Lawyers were friendly, professional and knowledgeable in putting forward a successful visa application. Over the year and a half, Hafiza and Zefy were available for consultations, answered any questions in a timely fashion and provided support throughout the entire process. They offered top notch professional work with an emotional touch as they understand how important visa applications are for the applicants and their family. Ethos is highly recommended if you would like peace of mind when applying for your next visa.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is ‘The Character Test’?

Australian Migration legislation set’s out a range of circumstances that guide the Department to assess whether a person meets or fails the character test.


Read more here.

Can the Character Requirement be waived?

Technically, there are no grounds for the character requirement to be waived however the Department will consider mitigating factors to allow a visa to be granted or prevent a visa cancellations.

Excercising A Health Waiver

If your visa has the ability to have the health requirement waived you may be eligible for a health waiver. Once the Department has assessed the application as not meeting the health requirement, you will be invited to provide information to justify a waiver of the requirement by demonstrating ‘Compelling and Compassionate Circumstances’.

Contact Us To Discuss the Character Requirement Today

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Level 6, 224 Queen Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000

1300 083 843

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