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What is the Character test? – Australian Visas and Citizenship

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A person’s character is a significant issue when a person applies for an Australian visa or Australian citizenship.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s (DIBP) website correctly points out that “Entering or remaining is Australia is a Privilege, and it is expected that non-citizens are, and have been, law abiding.”  It also emphasises that visa holders must also continue to satisfy the character requirement.

It does not matter what type of visa you apply for you must inform DIBP of any criminal convictions whether they have been committed in Australia or overseas.

If you are serving a full-time custodial sentence and have ever been sentenced to 12 months or more imprisonment, regardless of time actually served, or have been convicted of, had a charge proven for or have been found guilty of a sexually based crime involving a child, your visa must be cancelled by DIBP. If this occurs, you have 28 days to respond and it is important you get expert advice. Even if appeal to the DIBP is unsuccessful there are other avenues such as to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the Courts.

A person will fail the character test if they have a substantial criminal record, have committed offences in detention, a member or associate of an organised crime group, you are likely to commit offences which are unacceptable to the Australian Community, committed sexual offences against children or consider a risk by our security organisations. Failing the character test places a huge uncertainty on having your visa application granted.

In recent times the number of visa cancellation on character grounds has increased fivefold due to increased monitoring and action by DIBP.

The Minister of Immigration through his delegates has the power under Section 501 of the Migration Act 1958 has the power to refuse or cancels a person visa. Any person removed from Australia on the grounds of character is permanently barred from being granted another visa to come back to Australia. It will also prevent you from applying for many other visas.

In recent times the Department refused an application for citizenship (Al Batat and Minister for Immigration and Border Protection (Citizenship) [2016] AATA 726 (20 September 2016) where an applicant had an altercation with a DIBP officer at an interview for a citizenship test. The officer took into account his behaviour and his traffic history, which the Tribunal member described as “minor”, to refuse his application. The matter was overturned at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, but it clearly demonstrates that officers are now looking at a range of behaviours which might not have been the case before.

If you have any issues with a character test, visa refusal or cancellation our expert team can assist. Time is often of the essence in these types of matters so don’t delay as you may lose your rights to appeal. Contact our team of Immigration Lawyers and Registered Migration Agents today.

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