Applicants might be asked to provide police clearance certificates, also known as penal clearance certificates, or other evidence during visa application process.
Police certificates may be requested for each country, including Australia and home country, that a person has lived in for 12 months or more, over the last 10 years, since turning 16 years of age. Each certificate must cover the whole period of time spent in a particular country. Police certificates are valid for 12 months from the date of issue.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) National Police Check application form is available on the AFP website. For instructions on obtaining a certificate from a foreign government or law enforcement agency, applicants need to refer to the police check section of the relevant country information page. In situations, where a country issues certificates only to its citizens or residents, an applicant will need to contact their migration agent or the nearest Australian Immigration office for more information.
In addition to certificates, visa applicants inside Australia should provide a completed Form 80, Personal particulars for character assessment. While applicants outside Australia do not have to submit this form with their application, it is advisable to include it in order to reduce possible processing delays. In some cases, applicants may also be asked to complete a Character Statutory Declaration.
In order to meet character requirements a person needs to pass a character test. Applicants will not pass the character test if they:
- Have a substantial criminal record¹
- Have been convicted of escaping from immigration detention
- Have been convicted for any offence committed in or during/after an escape from immigration detention
- Have, or have had, an association with an individual, group or organisation suspected of involvement in criminal conduct
- Have been suspected of involvement in a crime that is of serious international concern²
- Have been found not to be of good character based on past and present criminal or general conduct
- Pose a significant risk while in Australia³
- Have been found guilty of sexually based offences involving children
- Are subject to a negative security assessment by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO)
- Are subject to an Interpol notice and presumed to pose a direct or indirect risk to the Australian community
¹Substantial Criminal Record
- Sentenced to prison for more than 12 months
- Sentenced to several terms of imprisonment with the total of 12 months or more
- Acquitted of an offence on the grounds of unsoundness of mind or insanity and, as a result, been detained in a facility or institution
- Found by a court not to be fit to plead in relation to offence but found to have committed the offence and as a result detained in a facility or institution
- Sentenced to death or life imprisonment
²Crimes of Serious International Concern
- People smuggling
- People trafficking
- War crime
- Crime against humanity
- Torture or Slavery
³Significant Risk while in Australia
- Engagement in criminal conduct
- Harassment, molestation, intimidation or stalking of another person
- Vilification of a segment of the Australian community
- Incitement of discord in any part of the Australian community
- Dangerous acts towards any part of the Australian community
If a person does not inform the Department of a past or present criminal history or does not pass the character test, existing visa application may be refused or current visa can be cancelled. In most cases, the decision to cancel a visa is discretionary. But in circumstances affected by substantial criminal record or sexual offences involving children, the decision is mandatory and the department must cancel a visa and provide 28 days for revocation requests.
Decisions to cancel or refuse a visa are made after full consideration of all the circumstances. An effective migration agent can make a submission on behalf of a client and provide reasons why a visa should not be cancelled or the decision to cancel should be revoked. Depending on the circumstances and applicant’s location, there may be also a right of appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). Irrespective of the AAT option, an applicant may always seek judicial review of the decision, if they believe it was not lawfully made.