The Character Requirement.
What is it? What does it entail?
Any person wanting to enter Australia is required to have their character checked against a number of criteria set out by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). This is the case no matter which visa you want to apply for. However, how stringent the character assessment is depends on which visa you want to apply for and what you and your girlfriend’s circumstances are.
For example, if your girlfriend is a Thai citizen wanting a Tourist visa to visit you in Australia, she will need to answer some questions about her character in the visa application.
Depending on what answers she gives, DIAC may or may not want to chase the matter up further to clarify things and possibly obtain more details. Sometimes they will ring her up and ask her some questions, or ask her to come in for an interview.
The character requirements detailed in the Migration Act are usually supplemented by and linked to the class of visa being applied for through specific Public Interest Criteria.
The Character Test
The character tests put the onus on the “Applicant” to show that they are of good character. In other words, it is not up to DIAC to prove that your Thai girlfriend is of bad character. She has to show that she is of good character in a general and criminal sense.
As well as being used as a tool to help assess the suitability of people to enter and remain in Australia, and/or sponsor a visa applicant to come to Australia, the character test introduces discretionary powers to either refuse or cancel visas if the person does not pass the character test.
Character is also determined in an overall general sense by looking at the background of the applicant, their previous employment history, their previous visa history, etc.
The investigation into her character will be more rigorous if she is applying for a permanent visa or a visa that leads to a permanent visa. Applicants for these sorts of visas have to obtain Police Certificates from their country of passport that shows if they have any criminal record.
If your Thai girlfriend, fiancé or partner is migrating to Australia on a Fiancé or Partner visa and she has a child under the age of 18 that will be migrating with her, you will also have to have your character assessed. You will be required to obtain an Australian Federal Police National Police Check.
Furthermore, if you or she has spent a lot of time in one or more other countries over the last 10 years you may both also be required to obtain Police Certificates from those countries as well.
The timing for when to obtain character documentation can also change depending on where the application is made.
If either yourself or your Thai girlfriend have a minor criminal record this could affect her application.
Will this mean the application will automatically be refused?
Not necessarily. It will depend on the nature of the criminal record. Visa applications will often be refused if she or you have a substantial criminal record, an association with an individual, group or organization suspected of having been, or being, involved in criminal conduct, if there is a significant risk that she will engage in criminal conduct in Australia, harass or stalk another person in Australia, vilify a segment of the Australian community, or incite discord in a segment of the Australian community, or represent a danger to the Australian community.