Character Requirements for Partner Visa Applications

We often get asked about character requirements for Partner Visa applications and if having something like a speeding fine on your record will affect the outcome of an application.

Every person wanting to enter Australia is required to meet the character test, a set of criteria determined by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP). It applies to the visa applicant and the visa sponsor and the visa may be refused if either of them fails the character test.

This is one of the ways the Australian government, through the DIBP, protects the Australian community from the risk of harm posed by non-citizens of character concern, in line with community and government expectations.

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The responsibility is on you and your partner to demonstrate that you meet the character test. The amount of character information to be provided to the DIBP will depend on the type of visa you are applying for and the circumstances of you and your partner. For example, the amount of character information and documentation for a Partner Visa will be more than for a Visitor Visa.

What is the character requirement for the applicant?

For a partner visa application, you will provide information to the DIBP by answering questions on the application forms about your identity, personal background, employment history and visa history. You will obtain police clearances from countries you have resided in for a certain amount of time and provide detailed statutory declarations on your criminal history if you have one. The DIBP may or may not request further documentation or clarification after considering the initial information.

In general, you must provide sufficient information to demonstrate that you do not have a substantial criminal record and have not engaged in other criminal or general conduct that would incite discord or be a danger to the Australian community. The DIBP may investigate further if it suspects you to be associated with a person, group or organisation that has engaged in such criminal or general conduct.

For the purpose of the character test, a person is deemed 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.

Specific behaviours such as war crimes, people smuggling and trafficking and sexually based offences against a child will also cause you to fail the character test.

Does my Partner Visa Sponsor have to do a Federal Police Check?

Yes, your visa sponsor will have to obtain an Australian Federal Police clearance as well as police clearances from any other country where they have resided for a certain period of time.

To meet the character requirements for sponsorship, your sponsor must show that they have not been charged and convicted of certain criminal offences (primarily relating to children and violent crimes) and that they do not have a significant criminal record relating to those offences.

A sponsor is considered to have a significant criminal record if they have been sentenced to:

  • death
  • imprisonment for life
  • a term of imprisonment of 12 months or more
  • 2 or more terms of imprisonment, where the total of those terms is 12 months or more.

In some cases, the DIBP may disclose your partner’s past convictions to you to keep you informed.

What if my partner or I have a criminal record?

If either you or your partner fails to meet the character requirements, it does not automatically mean that the visa will be refused.

The DIBP has the discretion to approve or refuse the visa in some cases following consideration of a range of factors including the protection of the Australian community, the best interests of any minor children in Australia who may be affected by a decision to refuse the visa, length of the relationship, length of time since the sentence term was completed and expectations of the Australian community. In this situation, it is your responsibility to submit strong evidence to the DIBP to compel them to exercise its discretion to approve the visa.

If you have any concerns at all that you or your partner’s criminal history may affect your migration goals, it is very important to seek professional advice from a Registered Migration Agent before lodging a visa application. As always feel free to give the office a call on 07 3063 1200 if you need you any questions answered or check out Partner Visa FAQ Page.

About the Author Sophia Emberson-Bain

I was born in the Caribbean and schooled in England before moving to Australia. I studied law and now work at the best migration agency...and no I am not a pirate. Arrhhh. I enjoy helping people, which is why I studied law. Unfortunately, all this time studying has meant my hunting skills are not so strong, and so for that reason, I am a vegetarian.