Migration Agent Sydney

Society says that if someone commits a crime, they should be properly punished. But sometimes a crime, however minor, can have far-reaching and unintended consequences.

This can apply to people who wish to migrate to Australia, as the visa application process requires immigrants to be of good character. But the good news is that having a criminal record will not necessarily foil those plans.

Here’s a quick guide to moving to Australia with a criminal record, and how a police clearance for a visa in Australia works.

Character test

Visa applicants and their family members must satisfy the character test in order to be granted a visa.

The Migration Act sets out the requirements of the character test. Applicants will not pass the character test for many reasons, including:

  • Having a substantial criminal record.
  • Committing an offence while in, or escaping from, immigration detention.
  • Reasonable suspicion of involvement with organised crime or terrorist organisations.
  • Reasonable suspicion of involvement in a war crime, human trafficking, torture or genocide.
  • The person’s conduct suggests they are not of good character.
  • There is a risk that the person could engage in criminal conduct while in Australia.
  • Being found guilty or convicted of a child sexual offence.
  • A risk to national security or the Australian community.

The character requirement is ongoing – even after being granted a visa, the successful applicant and their family members must still be able to demonstrate that they are of good character. If at any time the character test is not satisfied, the visa can be refused or cancelled.

Definition of substantial criminal record

One of the most important aspects of the test is the definition of ‘substantial criminal record’. It’s fairly obvious, but any criminal record that includes a life or death sentence is considered to be substantial. The definition also includes:

  • Any criminal record with a prison sentence of at least 12 months, or two or more sentences that total at least 12 months.
  • Suspended sentences and those served in residential treatment facilities.
  • Anyone who has been acquitted of an offence or has been deemed unfit to plead for mental health reasons, but has been found by a court to have committed the offence and has been detained in an institution.

This means that a visa applicant may still satisfy the good character requirements with a criminal record, as long as any offences are minor and haven’t resulted in more than 12 months of jail time.

The Australian Government recognises that while some criminal convictions create a genuine concern for the wellbeing and safety of the Australian public, other minor crimes should not have an ongoing impact.

Police clearances for a visa

Visa applicants are likely to be required to provide a police certificate with their visa applications. The list of countries this applies to and information on how to obtain the certificates can be found here.

Applicants who have spent at least one year since the age of 16 living in any of the specified countries during the past 10 years must provide a police certificate from that country. The certificate is basically a police check, and will show if any criminal offences were committed during the applicant’s period of residence.

Statutory declarations and Public Interest Criterion 4020

Applicants may also be asked to complete a statutory declaration attesting to their good character. These must be completed with as much detail as possible. The penalties for submitting false information can include imprisonment

Public Interest Criterion (PIC) 4020 applies to many popular visas. It requires that applicants provide sufficient evidence of their identity. Failure to provide sufficient evidence, or providing false and misleading information, will mean that the visa application is refused.

If you have a criminal record for an offence that is not considered serious, you may still be able to make a successful visa application. However, the process of proving your good character can be complicated, especially when it comes to obtaining police certificates, completing a statutory declaration and satisfying PIC 4020.

Move Migration is highly experienced in all of these elements and can guide you through the process.


  1. Melissa wilkinson

    Hello. Are you able to put me in contact with a recommended migration agent in order to assist me fully in applying for my visa. I am in Cheshire, England.

  2. Shaun

    Hi I am in London and looking for a good migration agent to Australia I’ve lived there before for 10 years as a over stayer and I’ve got a criminal record if you no of any agents pls email me on ssssp.morgo@yahoo.co.uk thanks

  3. chris

    hi, I need help with my partner ‘s visa application as my partner has got criminal record and wanting to migrate to Australia. could you recommend. thank you.

  4. Merehana waiwiri

    Hi my partner is wanting to move by his brother in Perth and get work he has a criminal conviction which put him in prison for 4 years he has been clean for 5 years would there be any problems for him going or what do we need to do. We are from nz

  5. Jenny

    Hi can you please recommend a good agent my friend would like to move to Australia but has a criminal record which put him in prison.

    Thank you

  6. Johannes Dias

    Please could you contact me. We would like to immigrate to Australia and need some information.

  7. Shqipe

    sir /madam
    Pleas contact me I have questions about. Immigration to australi
    I would highly appreciate you contacting me

    Thanks in advenc
    S. R

    • Sharmane Oliver

      My partner has had a criminal record about seven years ago and now is working in the middle east. Whom should I speak to prior to marrying him in Sri Lanka and sponsoring him to Australia on spouse visa please

  8. Heather

    My hubby to be and I are thinking to immigrate to Australia. The only problem is he has a criminal record which resulted in him going to prison. It was due to a traffic accident and he pushes no risk. Is there a chance we could still be accepted for a visa?

  9. Chris

    How does immigration view prison records which are a result of avoiding compulsory military service ?

  10. A Singh

    I’m Australian citizen
    My hubby sent back to his country. The only problem is he has serveral criminal record which resulted in him going to prison. It was due to fraud and break in he pushes no risk. Is there a chance he could still be accepted for a visa?

  11. Grant Ritchie

    My partner & I would like to apply for Visas & emigrate to Australia.
    I have 1 charge only for a Breach Of Peace on my Criminal Record.
    I’m a UK citizen living in Scotland.
    Will this put limitations on us?

    • Karl Aston

      Hi I live in Brisbane. I have a criminal record here in Australia. I was placed in a remand centre for 3mths. (2016). And now have fears of being able to fly to New Zealand and return.

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