Every person included in the application aged 16 and over must show they meet the character requirement.

To do this, they need to provide police checks from every country they have lived in for a period of 12 months or more (that is, 365 days in total, counting all visits), within the last 10 years.

Instructions for obtaining police checks from each country can be found here.

The processes for each country vary widely. Some countries are notoriously difficult to deal with. Many allow it to be done online, however some still require paper applications, and many require a full set of fingerprints.

Tips for getting fingerprints: you will need to go to a police station to get these done for your application. Some stations are more friendly and helpful than others, and we would recommend you phone ahead to see if there is a specific time they would like to you to come in, or if you have to make an appointment. Our general advice is, if you strike out at one station, just move on to try another until you find someone helpful. You may also find it easier to get an appointment at regional police stations.

When Do I Provide Police Checks?

The character requirement is assessed at time of decision, and documents do not need to be provided on lodgment. For this reason, unless someone included in the application has a criminal background, we would recommend you provide police checks after lodgment, given current processing times. Like health checks, police clearance certificates typically expire after 12 months – and you don’t want to have to apply more than once.

What If I Have a Criminal History?

An applicant cannot meet the character requirement if they have a “substantial criminal record”. Most commonly, this means someone has been given a prison sentence of 12 months or more.

If there are other, less serious convictions, it will very much depend on a number of factors, including (but not limited to):

  • The nature of the conviction
  • If there was more than one incident
  • How recently the crimes were committed

For instance, a low or even medium Driving Under the Influence (DUI) conviction will rarely cause an issue, and even a minor drug possession conviction may not ultimately impact an application. However, if the crime is of a violent nature (such as assault), regardless of the sentence, the case officer has to make a determination as to whether the applicant meets the character requirement.

  • A detailed Statutory Declaration or statement detailing what occurred, the sentence, and confirming the applicant has not offended since. It is worth taking a humble tone with a statement like this – while you should provide context for the offending, you should not deny responsibility: amongst other things, make it very clear that you understand what you did was wrong, and that you have learnt your lesson.
  • Any additional court or sentencing documents to give additional information to the case officer for the assessment.

If someone in an application has a criminal history that was not declared on a previous application, this is very serious, and may even be considered more serious than the offence itself. This would need to be dealt with in the statement, and you may require separate professional advice.

Ariel Brott
Our many years of experience means we understand how the Department of Immigration, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, and other decision-makers analyse applications; we understand where they exercise discretions and where they will not. We know which strategies work and which don’t. We know which information to provide, and which to ignore.

We also have access to resources and information outside the reach of the general public. As such, we know the difference between the law and what DIBP says is the law. When DIBP puts out a statement on their website, we know what they really mean. And when DIBP publishes a checklist, our lawyers know how to read between the lines.

Our experience and expertise means that we are often in a position to help people who, based on poor advice or inadequate representation, might otherwise have assumed their case is hopeless.