Travelling To Australia
With A Criminal Record

Although even minor convictions can create a less-than-pleasant experience at the border, travelling to Australia with a criminal record may still be possible.

If you’re wondering what criminal convictions prevent travel to Australia, you’ll find an overview on this page as a starting point. VisaAide has extensive experience in dealing with character issues and we ensure our service is strictly confidential to enable you to discuss your matters in private.

New Zealanders with Convictions in New Zealand

The first character threshold for NZ citizens wanting to enter Australia is Behaviour Concern Non-Citizen (BCNC). NZ citizens who have been sentenced to 12 months or more imprisonment or suspended imprisonment are considered to be BCNC. This would prevent a New Zealand citizen from being granted a Special Category Visa (Subclass 444), which is the visa that allows NZ citizens to live and work in Australia.

If you have not been sentenced to more that 12 months imprisonment or suspended imprisonment, but you have a conviction history in New Zealand, you are best to complete a Consent to Disclosure of Information Form. This form releases the conviction history to the Australian authorities for them to assess whether you are eligible for a 444 visa.

New Zealanders with convictions in other countries

If you have convictions in other countries, you’ll need to obtain a police certificate from those countries.

This information then needs to be presented to the nearest Australian immigration office, Visa Application Centre or Integrity Unit for an assessment on whet

Character assessments

In some circumstances, you’ll need to apply for a visa and undergo a character assessment. This can really restrict your visa options as you must meet a visa category just like every non-New Zealand citizen. For example, if you want to work, you may need to look at a Subclass 482 work visa and have an employer sponsor you. 

A character assessment evaluates the circumstances of your offending and takes into consideration your situation at the time of the offense, and what your situation is like currently. Things like the type of the offense, how long ago the offense was, whether there are multiple offenses, and how long you have been conviction free, are all taken into consideration.

Character assessments are done ‘on the papers’, meaning you do not attend an interview in most cases. You need to provide all your evidence that you want considered with your application for a visa.

The character assessment exists to identify who is likely to:

  • Engage in criminal conduct;
  • Harass, molest, intimidate or stalk another person;
  • Vilify a segment of the Australian community;
  • Incite discord in the Australian community; or
  • Be a danger to the Australian community.

Be aware that character assessment processing can be lengthy. At this stage, we find applications for visitor visas are taking around 12 to 24 months to be assessed.

Deported, refused entry or removed from another country 

If you are ineligible for a special category visa (subclass 444) due to being deported, refused entry, or removed from another country other than Australia, you will be required to apply for a visa but would not normally need to undergo a character assessment.

444 cancelled/removed from Australia

 If you have previously had your special category visa (subclass 444) cancelled under character grounds and you have been removed from Australia, in some cases the exclusion from Australia is permanent.

In compelling and compassionate circumstances, this can be waived by the Minister of Immigration for the grant of a visa. The waiver only applies to that particular visa and does not guarantee that another waiver will be granted.

Do you need help with Australian travel visas?

We specialise in Australian visas and have expertise in travelling to Australia with a criminal record – contact us for up-to-date advice.