Strengthening of Australia Visa Character Requirements to focus on Family Violence Matters

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The Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs has recently signed off a new Direction focusing on family violence and violence against vulnerable people.

The new Ministerial Direction Number 90 is designed to further reinforce the Government’s intolerance for family violence matters.

This new direction requires decision-makers to place family violence considerations at the forefront of the visa decision-making process.
It also requires decision-makers to seriously consider other forms of unacceptable behaviour towards vulnerable people, such as the elderly, who are often the target of serious non-violent crimes including fraud, extortion, exploitation and neglect.

When will these new character test requirements come into effect?

These changes will come into effect on 15 April 2021

Matters considered ‘Serious’ Family Violence Crimes for the visa Character Test

The following crimes or conduct are to be considered very serious when assessing whether a person meets the character requirements:

  • Violent and/or sexual crimes;
  • Crimes of a violent nature against women and children, regardless of the sentence imposed;
  • Acts of family violence, regardless of the sentence imposed

How these Very Serious Family Violence Crimes are defined

Acts of family violence are very widely defined under the Direction and includes matters such as:

  • Assault
  • Sexual assault
  • Sexually abusive behaviour
  • Stalking
  • Repeated derogatory taunts
  • Unreasonably withholding financial support
  • Unlawfully depriving the family member of his or her liberty

Other matters considered ‘Serious’ under the new direction for Visa Character Test

In addition to serious family violence crimes, the Direction also lists other matters considered serious, including:

  • Causing a person to enter into a forced marriage, regardless of whether convicted of an offence or the sentence imposed
  • Crimes against vulnerable people such as the elderly, disabled, government representatives or officials
  • Crimes committed in immigration detention, during an escape or after escape from a detention centre
  • Crimes against humanity, people trafficking and worker exploitation

If I fail the Character Test, could my visa be refused or cancelled?

Yes. If you are a visa applicant (and in some cases, a visa sponsor) and you do not satisfy the character requirements, you may find your visa application refused.
Additionally, if you are a current visa holder who fails the character test, you may find your visa is at risk of being cancelled.

Could I be deported?

Yes. If you fail the character test, you may also face deportation, regardless of whether a conviction or sentence is imposed for the crime.

Will this change affect you?

Are you in a situation where you suspect these changes could affect your application or current visa?
Or have you have received a notification that the Department of Home Affairs is considering the cancellation of your visa on character grounds?
If you said yes to either of the above, it is worth discussing your case with an expert in migration law. Please reach out to us for help.
Under the guidance and expertise of Richard Timpson, who is 1 of only 6 Accredited Immigration Law Specialists in QLD, our team is second to none when it comes to in-depth knowledge in this area.
If you would like further information on how we can help you or someone you know, please feel free to contact us on +61 7 3166 9100. Alternatively, you may send us an email, enquiries@timpsonimmigration.com.au

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