The Good Character Requirement: What Does It Mean?


All visa and citizenship applications in Australia require applicants to be of good character.

The Department of Home Affairs (Department) states that you are likely to meet the character requirements if your application shows you have no substantial criminal record and good general behaviour.

Applicants will be assessed under the character requirements outlined in section 501 of the Migration Act 1958.


Good Character & Visa Applications


When determining if a visa applicant is of good character, the Australian Government may request police certificates for each country the applicant has lived in for 12 months or more.

This may also include all countries the applicant has lived in over the last 10 years since turning 16.


Satisfying the Good Character Requirement


The good character requirement may not be satisfied if:

  • The applicant has a substantial criminal record;
  • The applicant has been convicted of escaping from immigration detention;
  • Have been (or are) a member of a group or organisation that the Minister for Immigration reasonably suspects of involvement with criminal conduct;
  • The applicant’s past and present criminal or general conduct shows that they are not of good character; or
  • There is a risk that while in Australia, the applicant may engage in criminal conduct or be a danger to the Australian community.


Good Character & Australian Citizenship


Visa holders are also eligible to apply for Australian citizenship after meeting certain requirements, which include the character requirements.

Good character is not defined in the Citizenship Act and is decided upon on a case-by-case basis.

This means that the decision-maker must consider the court’s interpretation of good character.


Australian Citizenship by Conferral


If you are applying for Australian Citizenship by conferral, the Australian Government may request that you provide police certificates for each country you have lived in for 90 days or more (if you have lived or travelled overseas since turning 18 years old).


Australian Citizenship by Descent, Adoption or Resumption


If you are applying for Australian Citizenship by descent, adoption or resumption, the Australian Government may request that you provide police certificates for each country you have lived in for 90 days or more if you have spent time overseas for 12 months or more (for the last 10 years).

You must disclose all Australian and overseas spent convictions in your application for Australian citizenship.


Characteristics of Good Character


As per the Citizenship Policy, there are specific characteristics an applicant with good character must display.

These characteristics include:

  • Must not be considered violent, involved with drugs or illegal sexual activity;
  • Must not be associated with others who are involved in anti-social behaviour; and
  • Must not have evaded immigration control or assisted others to do so.

More information is available here.

As community standards apply when deciding if one is of good character, the decision-maker must ask themselves the following:

  1. Are these the behaviours of someone with good character?
  2. What is there to indicate the applicant has upheld the law and is following Australia’s community standards? and
  3. Does the applicant share Australia’s democratic beliefs?


Criminal Conviction Whilst on Visa


If you have committed a serious crime, including of a violent or sexual nature, and particularly against vulnerable members of the community (i.e. minors, the elderly or disabled), generally you will forfeit the privilege of remaining in Australia.

You are required to inform the Department of any changes to your circumstances, this includes any allegations that have been made and any convictions against you or a member of your family unit.

The Department’s primary considerations are:

  • The protection of the Australian community from criminal or other serious conduct;
  • The best interest of minor children in Australia; and
  • The expectations of the Australian community.

The Department will also consider the length of time a non-citizen has been making a positive contribution to the Australian community and the consequences of visa refusal or cancellation for minor children and other immediate family members in Australia.


Can My Visa Be Cancelled for Anything Else?


Your visa can also be cancelled for a variety of other reasons, including but not limited to:

  • Provisions of incorrect information, such as answering application form questions incorrectly;
  • Provisions of false and/or incorrect documents with your visa application; and
  • Not meeting your visa conditions, such as changing employers/jobs while on an employer-sponsored visa, moving states while on a state-nominated visa, or no longer being in a relationship with your partner while holding a temporary partner visa.


Contact Us


For professional consultation on understanding and meeting the Good Character Requirement, contact Bambrick Legal today:

Please note: Our migration and citizenship consultations are provided on a fee basis.

Related Blog – 9 Tips for a Successful Visa Application in Australia

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