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Australian Visa Applications: How to Pass the Character Test

If you’re planning to migrate to Australia, you’ll likely face a character test as part of your visa application. The character test is designed to ensure that only those who are of good character are granted entry, stay or citizenship in Australia. While this requirement may seem straightforward, it can be more complex than you think. 

The character test involves not only criminal records but also other aspects of your personal history, such as financial standing, health and association with certain groups or activities. Even minor issues or mistakes in your past can affect your chances of passing the character test. Therefore, it’s essential to understand the requirements and prepare accordingly to avoid delays, rejections or cancellations of your visa. 

In this article, we’ll guide you through the key aspects of the character test and provide practical tips to help you pass the test and realise your dream of living in Australia.

Who Needs to Pass the Character Test?

The character test is a requirement for most types of Australian visas under the Australian immigration law, as outlined in the Migration Act 1958. This includes visas for skilled migration, partner migration, student migration, working holiday, business and investment migration, refugee and humanitarian migration and citizenship applications.

In general, anyone who is over 16 years old and applies for a visa that requires the character test must pass it under the country’s migration law. This includes both primary and secondary applicants, as well as dependents who are included in the visa application.

Furthermore, even if you have already passed the character test for a previous visa application, you may need to pass it again if:

  • You have spent a cumulative total of 12 months or more outside of Australia since the last character test.
  • You have been convicted of a crime or committed any act that may affect your character since the last character test.
  • You are applying for a different type of visa that requires a higher level of character assessment.

The character test under the migration law is not limited to Australian criminal history or behaviour. It also applies to actions that may have occurred outside of Australia, such as association with certain groups or involvement in activities that are deemed unacceptable by Australian standards.

Therefore, it’s important to disclose all relevant information about your personal history and provide accurate documentation and evidence to support your character claims under the Australian immigration law. Failure to do so can result in visa refusal or cancellation and may affect your future visa applications. For more information about character requirements for visas, click here.

What Does the Character Test Involve?

The character test is a complex assessment of an individual’s personal history and behaviour. It involves various criteria that are used to determine if the person is of good character and can be granted an Australian visa.

Criminal records

The immigration department will evaluate your criminal history, including any charges or convictions you may have had in Australia or overseas. This assessment also includes offences committed by you or any family members. While not all criminal convictions result in visa refusal or cancellation under Australian immigration law, serious or violent offences may affect your visa application.


Your association with individuals or groups that have a criminal record or pose a security risk to Australia will be checked. This includes any involvement or support of illegal activities, terrorism or organised crime. 

Debts to the Australian government

The immigration department will assess if you have any outstanding debts to the Australian government, such as taxes, fines or loans. You will need to provide evidence that you have paid any debts or have a payment plan in place to repay them under the Australian migration law.


To determine whether you are likely to require medical treatment or incur a significant cost to the Australian health system under the Australian immigration law, the immigration department will evaluate your health condition. This assessment includes physical or mental health conditions, disabilities or any condition that may pose a risk to public health and safety. You may need to undergo a health examination by an approved panel physician.

Other criteria

The immigration department may also consider other factors, such as employment history, education, character references or any other information that may affect your character assessment under the Australian migration law.

Each criterion is assessed and weighted differently, and the decision to grant or refuse a visa ultimately depends on the overall assessment of an applicant’s character. Seeking the advice and assistance of immigration lawyers or visa lawyers in Australia can be beneficial in understanding and navigating these character test criteria.

How to Prepare for the Character Test

As an applicant for an Australian visa, preparing for the character test is an essential step to ensure a successful outcome. The following are some practical steps to take before applying:

  1. Gather all necessary documentation. This includes your criminal record history, evidence of debts paid to the Australian government and health records.
  2. Address any negative aspects of your history. Consider providing context, explanation, and evidence to demonstrate that you have taken steps to rectify past mistakes or mitigate any potential risks.
  3. Use available resources and support. The Australian government provides a range of resources and support to assist visa applicants. These include online resources, support services and legal advice. Make use of these resources to ensure you have the best chance of success.
  4. Seek advice from immigration lawyers or visa lawyers in Australia. The best immigration lawyers in Sydney can provide invaluable advice and guidance on how to prepare for the character test. They can also help you understand the legal requirements and procedures involved.

How Madison Marcus Can Help You

Passing the character test is a crucial step in the Australian visa application process, and it can be challenging for many applicants. However, by understanding the criteria and preparing thoroughly, you can increase your chances of success. 

At Madison Marcus, our team of experienced immigration lawyers has the knowledge, connections and drive to support you in all manners of global mobility and immigration. As a multilingual firm, we can communicate and understand our clients across the board, helping to navigate cultural sensitivities, policy changes, and political upheaval to achieve successful outcomes. 

Contact us today to find out how we can help you with your visa applicatio


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