Australia strengthens the character test relating to the revocation or cancellation of visas

From the 15 April 2021, the Australian Government will introduce stronger measures surrounding character tests for non-citizens applying for a visa to enter or remain in Australia.

The Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, Alex Hawke has announced a new Ministerial Direction (MD) 90 – Visa refusal and cancellation under section 501 and revocation of a mandatory cancellation of a visa under section 501CA.

Australia has a sovereign right to determine whether non-citizens who are of concern regarding their character can enter and/or remain in Australia.

When considering revoking or cancelling a visa the primary considerations are:

  • Protection of the Australian community from criminal or other serious conduct
  • Whether the conduct engaged in constituted family violence
  • The best interests of minor children in Australia
  • Expectations of the Australian community

The new direction requires crimes or conduct involving family violence to be given primary consideration in decision making.

The Minister when announcing the strengthened character test said, ‘Family violence and crimes against vulnerable members of the community have no place in Australia and will not be tolerated.’

The following crimes or conduct are to be considered as very serious:

  • violent and/or sexual crimes
  • crimes of a violent nature against women and children, regardless of the sentence imposed
  • acts of family violence, regardless of the sentence imposed (a broad list of examples of actions that may be considered family violence)

The following crimes or conduct are considered to be serious:

  • causing a person to enter into a forced marriage, regardless of whether convicted of an offence or the sentence imposed
  • crimes against vulnerable people such as the elderly, disabled, government representatives or officials
  • crimes committed in immigration detention, during an escape or after escape from a detention centre
  • crimes against humanity, people trafficking and worker exploitation

Importantly In the absence of a conviction, Departmental officers are urged to consider if there is information or evidence from independent and authoritative sources indicating that the non-citizen is, or has been, involved in the perpetration of family violence.

Our team have acted for many non-citizens faced with the revocation or cancellation of their visas. It is important to get expert advice if you find yourself in this position.

Contact our team of registered migration agents and immigration lawyers for a consultation regarding character tests or your immigration needs.