The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has updated and released the latest version of the Character Requirement, which now includes more criteria in the test, for those who wish to enter and stay in Australia.

It's compulsory for applicants applying for Australian visas, non citizen sponsors and non migrating family members who wish to enter and stay in the country to have their character assessed which means they have to meet the character requirements mentioned in Section 501 of the Migration Act 1958.

This section of the Migration Act 1958 designs the character test to ensure that all applicants are of good character. In addition, the test also gives discretionary powers to either refuse or cancel visas if potential entrants to Australia fail the test.

The main reasons for failing the character test are having a substantial criminal record or if they have or have had an association with an individual, group or organization suspected of having been, or being involved in criminal conduct.

The authorities look at a person's past and if they are found not to be of good character they will be refused a visa on the grounds that there is a significant risk they could engage in criminal conduct in Australia.

Anyone who is regarded as potentially being capable of harassment, molestation, intimidation, stalking or inciting discord in the Australian community or represent a danger to the community, could be refused entry.

The Australian authorities regard a substantial criminal record as being a term of imprisonment for 12 months or more, life imprisonment, sentenced to two or more terms of imprisonment (whether on one or more occasions), where the total of those terms is two years or more, acquitted of an offence on the grounds of either unsoundness of mind or insanity and, as a result have been detained in a facility or institution.

If your visa is cancelled or refused on criminal grounds, an applicant will be permanently excluded from Australia.

To show that they are of good character an applicant may be asked to provide penal clearance certificates for each country where they have lived for 12 months or more over the last ten years since the age of 16. In some instances applicants may also be asked to obtain additional documentation.

Even criminal convictions but that no longer show on the official record because of spent convictions legislation should be declared on a visa application form, as spent convictions legislation does not apply to decisions made under immigration law.