Changes to Character Test - New Bill

Strengthening the Character Test – the Proposed Changes Mean It’s Harder to Pass

In October 2018, a new Bill was introduced to strengthen the character test; increasing the risk of visa refusal or cancellation under this new provision.

The Migration Amendment (Strengthening the Character Test) Bill 2018 will introduce a list of ‘designated offences’ into the section 501 of the Migration Act 1958 that provides for clearer and more grounds for visa refusal or cancellation for persons with criminal offence.

In summary, section 501 is being strengthened to include any visa holder who is or becomes the subject of an apprehended violence order (AVO), convicted of a criminal offence such as violence against a person, weapons or non-consensual sexual acts.

A conviction is enough grounds to consider cancellation as long as the offence carries a maximum sentence of two or more years imprisonment.

The Bill complements the existing provisions in the character test, including the mandatory cancellation powers which provide that a person’s visa must be cancelled if they have been sentenced to 12 months or more in prison.

Designated Offences

The below list of designated offences will be inserted into section 501 of the Migration Act 1958, making it very clear that anyone convicted of these offences, whether in Australia or overseas, will have greater risk of visa refusal or cancellation.

  • violence against a person, including (without limitation) murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, assault, aggravated burglary and the threat of violence; or

  • non-consensual conduct of a sexual nature, including (without limitation) sexual assault and the non-consensual commission of an act of indecency or sharing of an intimate image; or

  • breaching an order made by a court or tribunal for the personal protection of another person; or

  • using or possessing a weapon; or

  • procuring, or assisting in any way with one of these designated crimes; and

  • the offence carries a maximum sentence of two or more years imprisonment

The amendments above will come into effect one day after the Bill receives the Royal Assent from the Governor-General. At the time of writing, the Bill is being referred to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee which will provide their view as a report on 18 January 2019.

Contact us

Though the above is not passed as a law yet, if you feel that you have any criminal offence or conviction that may adversely impact your visa or application, contact us without delay. Arguing the character test can be very complex and you will want it to leave it to experts like us.

Our lawyers are well trained to handle highly complex matters so book one of our lawyers to seek professional advice now by calling 02-72002700 or email us to book in a time at info@agape-immigration.com.

We speak fluent English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Indonesian and Malay. If these aren’t your language, we can also help you arrange an interpreter.