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Australia’s Character requirements: What it really takes to be considered ‘of good character’

Australia is very serious about keeping any shady characters out of their country which, ironically, is famous for the fact that it was once a British penal colony!


Between 1788 and 1868 about 162,000 convicts were transported by the British government to various penal colonies in Australia but today you will get nowhere near Australia if your character is a bit unsavory.  In an effort to protect its borders and citizens Australia requires migrants to meet certain minimum character requirements before allowing them access into the country and it seems to be paying dividends as Australia is known for their low crime stats.

Visa applicants with a criminal record will in some case be refused their visa outright and in some instances the applicant may lodge an appeal if their visa application was rejected on character grounds.

Character requirements

According to Australia’s Department of Home Affairs website:

“Everyone who wants to enter Australia must be of good character and will be assessed against the character requirements. As part of your visa application, you might be required to provide a police clearance certificate or other evidence to satisfy the character requirements.  This includes all non-citizens, sponsors of visa applicants and non-migrating family members seeking to enter or stay in Australia.

“Irrespective of which visa you apply for, you must advise the Department if you have any criminal convictions inside or outside of Australia, and you may be asked to provide police certificates as part of your assessment against the character test. If you do not inform the Department of your criminal history, your visa application may be refused or your visa cancelled.

“The Department and the Minister have the power to refuse or cancel a visa on the basis that a person does not pass the character test.

“Decisions to cancel or refuse visas on the basis of the character test are made after full consideration of all the circumstances of a case.”


You will not pass the character requirement if:

  • you are currently serving a full-time custodial sentence
  • if you have ever been sentenced to 12 months or more imprisonment,
  • you have been convicted for a sexually based crime
  • you have been charged with a sexually based crime where a minor is involved
  • 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
  • after an escape and you were taken into immigration detention again
  • you are or have been a member of a group or organisation, or had or have an association with a person, group or organisation that the Minister reasonably suspects of being involved in criminal conduct
  • the Minister reasonably suspects that you have been involved in people smuggling, people trafficking, genocide, a war crime, a crime against humanity, a crime involving torture or slavery, or a crime that is of serious international concern, whether or not you have been convicted of such an offence
  • your past and present criminal or general conduct shows that you are not of good character
  • 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 in a part of it
    • be a danger to the Australian community or a part of it
    • you are subject to an adverse security assessment by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation
    • you are subject to an Interpol notice, from which it is reasonable to infer that you are a direct or indirect risk to the Australian community, or a segment of the Australian community.



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Australia requirements