Character Test

Character Test

MAJOR CHANGES TO THE CHARACTER TEST WERE ENACTED IN LATE NOVEMBER 2014

An update in a new Blog post will follow in coming weeks

All people holding and applying for visas and citizenship in Australia must be of good character and must pass the Character Test.

If Immigration assesses that you do not pass the character test, then your visa may be refused or cancelled.

If your visa or citizenship application is refused or cancelled because you do not pass the character test, then you are in very serious trouble and you might find yourself on your way back to your country of passport very soon.

What is the Character Test?

The Immigration website provides the following information;

You will not pass the character test if:

– you have a substantial criminal record, meaning you have been sentenced to 12 months or more in prison, or multiple sentences that add up to more than 24 months in prison. A suspended sentence is considered a prison sentence.
– you have been convicted of any offence that was committed while in immigration detention, during an escape from immigration detention, during a period where you escaped from immigration detention, or if you have been convicted of the offence of escaping from immigration detention
– you have, or have had, an association with an individual, group or organisation suspected of having been, or being, involved in criminal conduct
– having regard to your past and present criminal conduct, you are found not to be of good character
– having regard to your past and present general conduct, you are found not to be of good character
– there is a significant risk that you will engage in criminal conduct in Australia; or harass, molest, intimidate or stalk another person in Australia; or vilify a segment of the Australian community; or incite discord in the Australian community or in a segment of that community; or represent a danger to the Australian community or to a segment of that community.

The first two points are easy to measure and Immigration simply adds up the number of days a person is sentenced to prison, or checks if a conviction of the type described in the second point has occurred. This information appears on the police checks provided to Immigration.

The other four points involve an assessment by the case officer who will rely on directions from the Minister and the policy manual when making a decision.

Stricter Assessments Result in More People Failing the Character Test

Recent experience shows that Immigration is applying the Character Test more strictly and more people are failing the Character Test than in the past.

As a result, many more people are being refused visa and citizenship applications or having their existing visas cancelled, sometimes for minor matters that did not cause problems in the past.

How to avoid refusal or cancellation for failing the Character Test?

Obviously, the safest policy is to avoid any police or criminal history, however no-one can undo the past.

If you have a police /criminal history of any kind and you plan to apply for visas or citizenship, then careful planning and preparation with proper representation is needed.

Is a Waiver Possible?

The Minister published specific instructions about who can access waivers when people fail the Character Test and in what types of circumstances.

To access a waiver, you will usually need a substantial written submission putting your case to the assessing officer in the best light possible.

If you have a police arrest / criminal history of any type in any country, and you are applying for a visa for Australia or citizenship in Australia, then Career Up can assist you present your case in your application in the best possible way.

If you have been invited to comment on adverse information that might cause you to fail the Character Test, contact Career Up immediately so we can assist you respond to Immigration appropriately & on time to put forward your case in the best possible way.

If your visa was refused or cancelled for failing the Character Test, contact Career Up as soon as you can to access whatever appeal rights you have.

Time limits for providing comments and lodging appeals are strict and cannot be extended in many cases, so do not delay!

George Pearse
MARN 0425396

Contact us here

Please note this blog post is not legal advice or visa advice.

Read our disclaimer for further details;  https://careerup.com.au/visa/disclaimer/

When to apply for your visa

When to Apply for your Visa

Knowing when to apply for your visa will help you avoid major errors and problems when dealing with Immigration.

At Career Up, we usually advise clients to apply for permanent residence visas as soon as they become eligible. This is because the law and policy that Immigration use to approve or refuse visa applications changes frequently and often without warning.

However in most circumstances, it is best to apply once you have a complete document set ready to lodge, except in urgent cases where, for example, visas are about to expire, where age limits apply, where important supporting documents like skills assessments or IELTS tests are about to expire, then the best plan can be to lodge before all documents are available.

In all cases, a minimum document set MUST be provided to avoid an invalid application or an early and unhappy refusal.

Planning the timing of your application helps avoid unnecessary refusal or invalid applications and helps ensure the best bridging visa possible is granted (for on-shore applications).

If you are in Australia and your visa has expired before you apply for your next visa, this will affect you in many ways, including;
– what bridging visa you will get,
– what working rights you will get
– whether it is possible to apply for a new visa at all,
– whether you are able to apply for a waiver of Schedule 3 conditions that can prevent late applications.

Contact Career Up as early as possible, so we can plan when to apply for your next visa to ensure the best possible outcome for your visa application.

If your visa has already expired, we can advise what options are possible for you including time limits and potential waiver applications.

George Pearse
MARN 0425396

Contact us here

Please note this blog post is not legal advice or visa advice.

Read our disclaimer for further details;  https://careerup.com.au/visa/disclaimer/

Some Good News on PIC 4020

Some Good News on PIC 4020

PIC 4020 is possibly the most effective weapon that Immigration has to refuse your visa application.

Many of the best legal minds in Australia have attempted appeals against refusals under PIC 4020 and failed. But finally, there is a glimmer of hope if your visa application has been refused a visa under PIC 4020.

PIC 4020, the Sledgehammer Public Interest Criterion, allows Immigration to refuse a visa application.

The criterion is particularly tough because it not only looks at the application currently in front of the case officer but can also look at visa applications that were made in the past. The case officer then decides if any bogus document or false or misleading information was given in the current application or in those past applications, sometimes regardless of whether any visa was granted. The criterion also affects skills assessments and medicals examinations and more.

It does not matter who gave the false or misleading information or who presented the bogus document. For example, it could be bogus certification of a business by a previous employer, or even a partly incorrect supporting statement by a family member in a partner visa application.

A decision this year by the Full Federal Court confirmed that false or misleading information or bogus documents provided by anyone could trigger a refusal under PC 4020.

But, and here is the good news, the Full Federal Court also concluded that the grant of a visa should not be refused if a visa applicant could explain an innocent mistake in a bogus document or information provided by them or others, or on their behalf.

The ruling will not assist everyone with PIC 4020 problems.

If you have an invitation to comment on false or misleading information or a bogus document in a current or previous application, or if your application has been refused under PIC 4020, contact Career Up now.

We will assess the seriousness of your problem, advise if and how you can get around your PIC 4020 issue or whether you should appeal, and advise your chances of success and your options.

Don’t delay. Act now.

George Pearse
MARN 0425396

Contact us here

Please note this blog post is not legal advice or visa advice.

Read our disclaimer for further details;  https://careerup.com.au/visa/disclaimer/

Complete Document Set for Quicker Visa Decisions

Complete Document Set for Quicker Visa Decisions

Once an application for a visa is submitted, only Immigration can decide how quickly or slowly they will process the application. However, there is one important thing we can do to speed up, or at the very least prevent delays to the processing of the application.

Providing a complete document set at time of application allows your application to be processed at any time, even immediately. A complete document set also avoids delays where a case officer requests further documents and places your application into the “pending” tray. If that happens, the application will sit untouched until the case officer gets back to it – and that could be months.

However, case officers are not required to request further documents if some are missing, or if more evidence would get the application over the line. They have authority to make a decision on any application based only on the information provided. So occasionally, case officers will refuse an application with a poor document set, without asking for more.

Knowing what documents to provide is the secret to getting your application approved as quickly as possible. While the document checklists published on the Immigration web site are a good start, experienced agents at Career Up referring to the Immigration policy manual will work with you to understand your particular circumstances and decide the documents required for the best result for your application.

Of course, there are times when it is not possible to provide all documents at time of application, for example;

  • an application needs to be made at very short notice,
  • a sudden change in Immigration policy that requires different documents or information,
  • where a request letter from Immigration is needed for an international police check,
  • when a required document has been requested but is very slow in coming, or
  • the case officer wants to be more sure about some aspect of an application.

In situations like these, Career Up will engage with the case officer to indicate which documents are unavailable and request time to provide them.

Contact Career Up now to organise your visa application.

George Pearse
MARN 0425396

Contact us here

Please note this blog post is not legal advice or visa advice.

Read our disclaimer for further details;  https://careerup.com.au/visa/disclaimer/

Section 48 bar

Section 48 of the Migration Act limits further applications by any person who does not hold a substantive visa, and whose substantive visa has been cancelled or whose application for a substantive visa has been refused since they last entered Australia. This limit on fresh applications is called the Section 48 bar.

A person does not hold a substantive visa if they only hold a bridging visa or they hold no visa at all.

If the Section 48 bar affects you, there is a short list of visas that you can apply for while you stay inside Australia. Your only other options are to leave Australia to apply for a new visa offshore, or to apply for a waiver of the Section 48 bar when applying for a new visa onshore.

A waiver on the Section 48 bar is possible in limited circumstances. As with other waivers, a waiver application can be easier or more complex. Unfortunately in most cases, the Section 48 bar can only be waivered on consideration of a specially written submission with supporting documents.

The Section 48 bar cannot be waivered in every case.

It is sensible to take action as soon as possible after any visa refusal or visa cancellation to avoid problems with a Section 48 bar or a potential Section 48 bar in the cheapest and most effective way.

If you think you might be affected by the Section 48 bar, contact Career up as soon as possible. We will advise if you are affected by the Section 48 bar & advise on your options and your best course of action.

If you know your visa has been cancelled or your visa application has been refused since you last entered Australia, contact Career Up as soon as possible to understand your situation better, to avoid problems with your next visa application, and to progress towards your visa target spending the minimum time, money, and effort required.

George Pearse
MARN 0425396

Contact us here

Please note this blog post is not legal advice or visa advice.

Read our disclaimer for further details;  https://careerup.com.au/visa/disclaimer/

Location when applying for your visa

Location when applying for your visa

One of the many important issues when planning an application is to decide what is the best location when applying for your visa.

In some cases, applications from inside Australia are prevented by conditions like 8503, in others the criteria to be met are different depending on your location when applying for your visa. For example, some visas have substantial compliance criteria when applying onshore but not when applying offshore and if you have not substantially complied with the conditions on your previous visa, then an offshore application could be the best option.

Of course, applying onshore where possible, is almost always necessary for eligibility for bridging visas.

Some visas also require you to be offshore at time of grant, and it is important to plan for this.

Being in the wrong location when applying for your visa can result in your application being invalid, having your visa application assessed against criteria you may not meet and refused, or missing out on a bridging visa.

Other location issues

Location issues are not limited to being inside Australia and outside Australia, because some visas require that you or your sponsor live and / or work in special zones or post codes. While this is not exactly “your location when applying for your visa”, it can be the location where you, or sometimes your sponsor, must have established residence and / or operate a business. Applications for citizenship, business visas and resident return visas all have residence requirements as well.

How to avoid problems and maximise your advantages

The answer is careful planning and professional advice.

Career Up works with you to identify the technical requirements for who needs to be whereyour location when applying for your visa and at time of grant. We will advise what residence criteria must be met, important for many sponsorships for example, and advise the residence requirements for future visa applications, such as for permanent business visas, resident return visas, and citizenship. Career Up can also assist you access records of your periods of residence in Australia.

Contact us to arrange a consultation to advance your visa application or visa issues ASAP.

George Pearse
MARN 0425396

Contact us here

Please note this blog post is not legal advice or visa advice.

Read our disclaimer for further details;  https://careerup.com.au/visa/disclaimer/

Visa Condition 8503 – No Further Stay condition

What is Condition 8503?

Condition 8503 is the most common of several visa conditions that prevent visa holders from applying for further visas while in Australia. The condition is sometimes attached at the discretion of the case officer and sometimes it is mandatory.

Other similar conditions include 8534 & 8535 (can be attached to student visas) and condition 8540 (can be attached to Work and Holiday visas).

If a No Further Stay condition is attached to any visa for Australia, it can continue to “live on” in subsequent visas, even though the condition would not normally be applied to the new visa. The No Further Stay condition may not even appear on a visa label or on a VEVO report for the later visa. This is particularly common with conditions 8534 and 8535, where applications for further student visas are allowed.

What does Condition 8503 do?

When attached to a visa, Condition 8503 prevents the holder from applying for further visas while inside Australia, except for a Protection visa.

Similarly with conditions 8534, 8535, and 8540, further applications are prevented, but have a short list of additional exceptions.

Can Condition 8503 be waivered?

Sometimes, yes. A waiver for Condition 8503 can be as simple as a tick box style waiver in certain applications, but in most cases a waiver application requires a specialised request with a supporting submission to gain approval for the waiver. Often, additional documents and evidence is required to support the claims made in the submission.

Career Up frequently prepares these types of waiver requests and submissions and is well able to assist if you need to apply for a waiver.

What if Condition 8503 cannot be waivered?

A waiver is not available in every situation.

However, there are a range of strategies available to avoid or get around problems with Condition 8503, 8534, 8535, and 8540. With careful planning, further applications can sometimes be made so you do not run foul of the rules.

How can Career Up help?

Career Up has more than 10 years experience and has helped dozens of clients overcome restrictions on making further application in Australia through waiver applications for Condition 8503, 8534, 8535, and 8540. In cases where a waiver is unlikely or not available, we have helped clients to successfully make applications using strategies to bypass the effects of these conditions.

If you have Condition 8503, 8534, 8535, or 8540 attached to your visa and you want to make application for further visas for Australia, contact us ASAP and we will assist you promptly and professionally, to advise you of your options and to address your issues.

George Pearse
MARN 0425396

Contact us here

Please note this blog post is not legal advice or visa advice.

Read our disclaimer for further details;  https://careerup.com.au/visa/disclaimer/

Survive PIC 4020 – The Sledgehammer Public Interest Criterion

What is PIC 4020?

In recent years, Australian Immigration has been gradually tightening their processing of visa applications. This is a process described as “Maintaining the Integrity” of the various visa programs.

As a result, most applications are now subject to Public Interest Criterion 4020 (PIC 4020), sometimes known as the Fraud or Integrity Criterion & some Migration Agents call it the Sledgehammer PIC. The criterion applies to applications for almost all visas including skilled, business, student, family, and temporary visas. 

This criterion is particularly tough because it not only looks at the application currently in front of the case officer but can also look at visa applications that were made in the past. The case officer then decides if any bogus document or false or misleading information was given in the current application or in those past applications, sometimes regardless of whether any visa was granted. The criterion also affects skills assessments and medicals examinations and more.

It does not matter who gave the false or misleading information or who presented the bogus document. For example, it could be bogus certification of a business by a previous employer, or even a partly incorrect supporting statement by a family member in a partner visa application.

A common example is where someone on a bridging visa applies for a special bridging visa (BVB) to travel outside Australia to see a sick family member. However, if that family member is not sick, then PIC 4020 could result in a refusal of the main visa application.

If an application fails to meet PIC 4020, then all applicants (including partner and children) are subject to a 3 year ban on further applications for any visa that has PIC 4020 – and that means almost all visas.

If an application fails to meet this part of PC 4020, then Immigration may waiver the ban and visa refusal in certain circumstances.

PIC 4020 was further amended in March 2014 to impose a ban of 10 years to any application where the visa was refused because Immigration was not satisfied as to the identity of any applicant.

There is no waiver available for this part of PIC 4020. All applicants must either satisfy Immigration as to their identity or all applicants will suffer the 10 year ban.

How to survive PIC 4020

Career Up seeks to avoid problems with PIC 4020, the Sledgehammer Criterion, so if you have made past applications for visas for Australia (that could be caught by PIC 4020) before the current or planned application then we will ask for a copy of all documents sent to Immigration. If you cannot provide a full copy, we will assist you in requesting a copy of your previous file or files from Immigration.

Sometimes previous problems in past applications can be solved by simply waiting out the period until the PIC 4020 will no longer look at the older applications, but sometimes other measures are required. We can assist you with planning this.

If you have applied for a visa by yourself, and you have been requested by Immigration to make comments about any information or documents you have supplied in any application or about your ability to prove your identity, then you should contact us immediately to make the best response possible to achieve the best outcome possible in your circumstances. You should do this even if Immigration has not yet approached you.

Do not wait! Act immediately! We recommend you contact an experienced agent like Career Up to assist you.

George Pearse
MARN 0425396

Contact us here

Please note this blog post is not legal advice or visa advice.

Read our disclaimer for further details;  https://careerup.com.au/visa/disclaimer/