Immigration is a big deal in Australia lately. Our refugee and detention policies are well known. This week we take a close look at where our Character Requirement meets immigration detention centres.

In December 2013, people escaped from detention centres in Western Australia. As you can see below, it was a cause for concern. What the article doesn’t talk about, is the long-term impact. Can the person who escaped settle in Australia for the long term?

More WA immigration centre escapes spark security concerns - screenshot of article
More WA immigration centre escapes spark security concerns – screenshot of article

Let’s look at the Character Requirement

In Australia, we have what is known as a Character Requirement that applies to all Visas. It includes everyone who wants to visit, or stay, here. It applies to all non-citizens. Even if you are a sponsor for an application, or a non-migrating family member, it still applies.

But what does it mean?

The Character Requirement means you must be law-abiding. That’s the short version.

The test looks at:

  • criminal convictions
  • associations with people who have had criminal convictions
  • the risk of future criminal convictions
  • … and so on.

There are more, but please call us if you have specific questions. We will be able to give you exact advice.

So what about escaped detainees?

As with many immigration matters, the answer is tricky. If the person escaped, and ran off, never to be found, then their situation is different. That’s common sense. The question is what happens to someone who is caught.

The important point is that escaping from an immigration detention centre is an offence in Australia. If you escape, and are caught, you can be convicted of that offence. So, the one man in that news story who was caught, probably faced that conviction. This then means that you are not law-abiding. So, will your visa be refused?

In terms of the Character Requirement, you might think that you won’t pass the test if you’ve previously escaped. The second most important point is that the test is discretionary. That means that someone needs to make a decision about whether you will meet the Character Requirement.

As with many items of immigration law in Australia, visa refusal may not happen automatically. The Minister may refuse one; or it may not. Each case is considered on its own.

What happens if you don’t pass the test?

As with our health tests, a failed test will be considered on its own merits. The Minister, or the Minister’s delegate, will consider a lot of factors before making a decision. You can read Fact Sheet 79 here. It has links to more reading, too.

Got questions?

If you have questions about the Character Requirement for your own situation, please call us today.