Character Requirements for Partner Visa

For an Australian Partner visa, both the applicant and sponsor need to meet certain Character requirements. We have summarised these requirements below:


In an effort to reduce violence in the Australian community, the government introduced laws which allow the department to refuse a sponsorship applications for a Partner Visa if the sponsor has a ‘significant criminal record’ in relation to ‘relevant offences’.

Relevant offences include the following:

  • Violence against a person, including (without limitation) murder, assault, sexual assault and the threat of violence
  • The harassment, molestation, intimidation or stalking of a person
  • The breach of an apprehended violence order
  • Firearms or other dangerous weapons
  • People smuggling
  • Human trafficking
  • Attempting to commit an offence involving any of the matters mentioned above or below
  • Aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring these offences.

Significant criminal record is defined as:

If a person has been sentenced to:

  • Death;
  • Imprisonment for life;
  • A term of imprisonment of 12 months or more, or
  • 2 or more terms of imprisonment, where the total of those terms is 12 months or more.

If a person is sentenced to serve the 2 or more prison terms concurrently, where the total period is 12 months or more, it is a significant criminal record.

Conviction that has been quashed or pardoned would be disregarded.

Possible Exemptions

However, despite the above, a sponsorship application may be approved if it is reasonable to do so having regard to the following:

  • The length of time since the sponsor completed the sentence for the relevant offence
  • The best interests of any children of the sponsor/and or any children of the visa applicant
  • The length of the relationship between the sponsor and the primary visa applicant

A partner visa application may be refused if the applicant fails to meet the character requirements.

A person would not pass the test if:

  • The applicant has a substantial criminal record (same definition as for the Sponsor)
  • The applicant has been convicted of crimes while in immigration detention
  • The applicant is a member of group or association that has been involved in criminal conduct
  • The applicant is suspected to have been involved in
    • people smuggling
    • human trafficking
    • Genocide
    • Crimes against humanity
    • War crimes
    • Torture or slavery
    • Or a crime that is otherwise of serious international concern
  • Having regard to the applicant past and present criminal and general conduct, the applicant is not of a good character
  • There is a risk that the applicant engages in
    • criminal conduct
    • harass, molest, intimidate or stalk another person in Australia
    • vilify a segment of the Australian community
    • incite discord in the Australian community
    • represent a danger to the Australian community
  • The applicant is convicted of sexually based offences involving a child
  • The applicant is charged with:
    • crime of genocide
    • crime against humanity
    • war crime
    • crime involving torture or slavery
    • crime of that is otherwise of serious international concern
  • The applicant is assessed by ASIO to be directly or indirectly a risk to Australian security
  • The applicant is subject to Interpol notice, and there is a risk to the Australian community.

However, in some circumstances the application may still be granted, having regard to:

  • The protection of the Australian community from criminal or other serious conduct
  • The best interest of minor children in Australia
  • Expectations of the Australian Community

Other considerations include:

  • International non-refoulment obligations
  • Impact on family members
  • Impact on victims
  • Impact on Australian business interests


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