Thursday, 25 October 2018
Media release

Strengthening the character test for non-citizens

Non-citizen sex offenders, violent thugs and those who commit violence against women will be at greater risk of having their visa cancelled or refused under new visa provisions introduced into Parliament today.

The Migration Amendment (Strengthening the Character Test) Bill 2018 will introduce a list of designated offences into s 501 of the Migration Act 1958, providing clear and objective grounds for the consideration of visa refusal or cancellation.

Designated offences must carry a two year or more maximum jail sentence and include offences involving violence, sexual assault, domestic abuse and the use or possession of weapons.

Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, David Coleman, said the Bill acknowledges the serious nature of these offences, and the long lasting impact they have on the victim and the broader community.

“Entering or remaining in Australia is a privilege and it is expected that non-citizens are, and have been, law-abiding,” Mr Coleman said.

“These crimes can inflict long lasting trauma on the victims and their friends and family. Physical violence, sexual assault, and violence against women are abhorrent crimes and those noncitizens who commit them are not welcome in our country.”

The Migration Amendment (Strengthening the Character Test) Bill 2018 complements the existing provisions in the character test, including the mandatory cancellation powers which provide that a person’s visa must be cancelled if they have been sentenced to 12 months or more in prison.

While the existing provisions have been effective, the 12 month sentence threshold does not always capture people guilty of all serious crimes committed in Australia and overseas.

“Unlike the mandatory cancellation framework, the new provisions will not require that the person be sentenced to a custodial sentence of more than 12 months,” Mr Coleman said.

“A conviction is sufficient grounds to consider cancellation as long as the offence carries a maximum sentence of two or more years imprisonment.

The amendments to the Migration Act 1958 will come into effect one day after the Bill receives the Royal Assent from the Governor-General.

Designated offences

The below list of designated offences will be inserted into s501 of the Migration Act 1958, making it very clear that anyone convicted of these crimes, whether in Australia or overseas, will be at risk of having their visa cancelled or refused.

  • violence against a person, including (without limitation) murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, assault, aggravated burglary and the threat of violence; or
  • non-consensual conduct of a sexual nature, including (without limitation) sexual assault and the non-consensual commission of an act of indecency or sharing of an intimate image; or
  • breaching an order made by a court or tribunal for the personal protection of another person; or
  • using or possessing a weapon; or
  • procuring, or assisting in any way with one of these designated crimes; and
  • the offence carries a maximum sentence of two or more years imprisonment.