Understanding the Character Test for Australian Visa Applications

Every visa applicant comes across the Character Test. While it sounds pretty self-explanatory, a large number of the applicants often find it difficult to come to terms with the specific requirements of this test. In a nutshell, this is a check the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) applies to determine whether a person is fit to enter Australian shores. Hence, it is imperative that you understand this test better to elevate your chances of getting the visa you want. Here you can check Australian Registered Immigration Law Firm!

 Who does the Character Test apply to?

The Character Test is applicable for every non-Australian citizen who wants to enter or stay in Australia as per Australia’s Migration Act. This applies to all non-citizens, sponsors of visa applicants and non-migrating family members who seek to enter or stay in Australia.

 Requirements of the Australian visa Character Test

According to the DIBP, entering Australia is a privilege, and as such visa applicants are expected to be – and have been – law-abiding.  Once the candidate receives the visa, they must continue to satisfy the character requirement during their stay in Australia.

A person is deemed to have an unsatisfactory Character if:

  • They have a substantial criminal record
  • They have been convicted of escaping from immigration detention, or convicted for an offence committed:
    • while in immigration detention
    • during an escape from immigration detention
    • after an escape, but before being taken into immigration detention again.
  • They are or have been associated with a person, group or organisation that the Minister reasonably suspects of being involved in criminal conduct
  • The Minister reasonably suspects that the applicant has been involved in smuggling, trafficking, genocide, a war crime, a crime against humanity, a crime involving torture or slavery, or a crime that is of major international concern, whether or not they have been convicted of such an offence
  • Their past and present criminal or general conduct shows that the applicant is not of good character
  • There lies the possibility of risk the applicant:
    • engaging in criminal conduct
    • harassing, molesting, intimidating or stalking another person
    • vilifying a segment of the Australian community
    • inciting discord in the Australian community or in a part of it
    • being a danger to the Australian community or to a part of it, while in Australia.
  • They have been convicted, found guilty, or had a charge proven for one or more sexually based offences involving a child
  • They are subject to an adverse security assessment by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation
  • They are subject to an Interpol notice, which implies that they are a direct or indirect risk to the Australian community, or a segment of the Australian community.

What is a substantial criminal record?

In context of the Character Test, a person is considered to have a substantial criminal record if they have been:

  • sentenced to death or life imprisonment
  • sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 12 months or more
  • sentenced to two or more terms of imprisonment (even if served concurrently), where the total of those terms is 12 months or more
  • found by a court to be not fit to plead in relation to an offence but found to have committed the offence and as a result have been detained in a facility or institution.

Failure to Satisfy the Character Test

If the applicant fails to pass the Character Test, the deciding Minister will make a decision on whether or not to refuse the visa application. A wide range of factors will be considered when making this decision, including the protection of the Australian community, the best interests of Australian children who might be affected by the refusal of the applicant’s visa, and expectations of the Australian community.

A person whose visa is cancelled on character grounds, will be permanently excluded from re-entering Australia through another visa. The cancellation of one visa application will consequently prevent them from applying for most other visas to stay in Australia.



Applicants can still contest a canceled visa by a right of appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), if the decision was given by a delegate of the Minister. However, decisions made personally by the Minister cannot be appealed. Applicants outside of Australia can also ask for their decision to be reviewed if they have either a sponsor or nominator in Australia.

Now that you know all there is to know about the Australian Character Test, you can prepare your application accordingly, and count down the days till you move to Australia! For any kind of assistance regarding your visa prospects and application, contact eduaid – the leading brand in all things related to migrating to Australia!

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