Criminal Convictions And The Character Test

No matter which type of Australian visa you apply for, all applicants must undergo a character test if they are aged 16 and over. There are several factors to consider when taking the character test. If you have convictions, you may be refused a visa. However, some convictions are acceptable to Australian Immigration, whilst others are not. Usually the more serious and recent convictions are more often considered not acceptable and any visa applied for will be refused. At Overseas Emigration Visas, we have many years of experience in advising on this issue and we consider three issues. First, does the applicant have any convictions at all? This means any criminal conviction at any time in his or her life – bearing in mind that as far as the Australian Immigration is concerned, there is no such thing as a “spent” conviction for the purposes of immigration. Secondly, how serious was the offence? And finally, how likely is the applicant to be viewed by the immigration officer as a threat of re-offending in their new country? For example, shoplifting at age 16 when the applicant is now 35 and has had no further convictions, is unlikely to be refused a visa, providing the correct explanations and references are provided. Someone who has recently been released from a period of imprisonment will likely be seen as a risk. The nature of the penalty given will be a good guide to the seriousness of the conviction. For example, a £50 fine may well be acceptable whereas a twelve-month custodial sentence may be a problem. Applicants who have a pattern of offending will also be viewed as problematic, and those with multiple drink driving offences over several years will also be viewed in a dim light. Dishonesty, violence, sexual and disorder offences will also be seen as undesirable problems to import into Australia. The length that an applicant has remained “conviction free” is always a good indicator that there has been an attempt at some rehabilitation and that the offending is unlikely to be repeated. If you have any questions about your convictions, or those of any family member and you are considering securing a visa to Australia, email us at or call us on 0800193 6900 and ask to speak to our Registered Migration Agent.  

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