Even fame and fortune can’t put you beyond the reach of the many tentacles of the character test, as R’n’B singer Chris Brown discovered last week! The mandatory character test attached to all Australian visa applications tripped up the performer in his application for a visa to tour Australia in December. Migration law dictates that anyone with a substantial criminal record can be in danger of failing the character provisions – Brown was convicted of assaulting and threatening to kill his former partner Rhianna in 2009, and has 28 days to explain why he should be allowed to visit Australia.

Other celebrities who have fallen foul of Australia’s visa rules include Kim Kardashian and Mike Tyson. Kim entered Australia on a tourist visa, but her visa was cancelled and a ban imposed when she was caught earning money from shopping centre appearances. Mike Tyson was prevented from taking his speaking tour to NZ as a result of his history of rape and assaults. Interestingly he passed the Australian character test in place at the time (noting the test has since been made stricter, probably as a result).

If you have a history of violence, visa breaches, bankruptcy, or criminal records, then it is imperative that you engage an experienced migration lawyer to prepare submissions detailing these matters. We are experienced at doing this, and have helped countless migrants secure visas despite hooliganism charges in the UK, drink driving and assault offences in Ireland, or minor criminal matters from NZ and South Africa. We take time to look into why the charge was made originally, what the judge/magistrate ruled at the time, how the visa applicant’s life has changed, how a deportation will effect Australia, and to also produce character references demonstrating the visa applicant is now of good character.

It is also important to note that the failure to disclose a history like this can itself lead to a 3 year ban. The department have been deporting many people this year on that basis – we are aware of one elderly man who was deported because of car stealing conviction he received decades ago, whilst living in NZ before he migrated.

The current rule is that if you have been convicted to a jail term of 12 months, you will be denied, and may be deported unless you have secured PR. The 12 months can be wholly suspended. It seems that New Zealand is sharing its criminal records with Australia, and Australia is looking to deport any kiwis with old criminal records. If you are a kiwi, and have not arranged your PR, then you should consider seeking PR if you wish to stay here.

If the Department believe that you may be a risk to any segments of the Australian community, then they can refuse your visa. The complex legal test of weighing up the risk to Australians against the many ways that an applicant might have rehabilitated themselves can be difficult to understand, and almost impossible for the average person to predict. Luckily, our experienced immigration lawyers are anything but average and have a firm understanding of the legal framework behind the character test, as well as the up-to-the-second policy decisions that guide your Department case worker in their decision.

While the character test can be a seriously sticky issue, at The Migration Place we have successfully overcome its grasping reach on many occasions by understanding that a criminal record is not simply a black and white issue – while Chris Brown may find his criminal history has shades of grey to it, you can still achieve the visa solution you need with the help of an experienced immigration lawyer. Don’t risk your offences being blown out of proportion – call us today!