Can I Visit Australia if I Have a Crime Record?
Visiting the fascinating Land of Oz is a dream for many people around the world. The Australian government welcomes foreign tourists, not only because they’re proud to show off their beautiful country, but also because it brings money to the local economy. However, money isn’t everything and Australia has very strict terms when it comes to allowing people with a criminal record into the country. It’s not that people with a criminal offense on their record cannot come to Australia. They can, but only if they’re not deemed to be dangerous. Let’s explain how the visa system works in Australia.
Types of offenses that won’t prevent you from getting a visa
In order to travel to Australia, foreign nationals need to obtain a visa. For most people, this is fairly simple. All you have to do is apply for an eVisitor or an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) visa. These visas can easily be obtained online and are free of charge. Both types allow for a visit of up to three months in the 12 months after the visa was granted.
However, to be eligible for such a visa you must not have a substantial criminal record.
To be very specific, in order to be eligible for an eVisitor or ETA visa you must not have on your record one or more convictions totaling 12 months or more in prison. This can be quite tricky because Australia does not recognize the principle of concurrent convictions which apply in many states.
If a person is given two six-months sentences at a trial, in most cases they will only serve six months in prison, as they are concurrent sentences. You’d think that makes you eligible for a simple visa, but, unfortunately, for Australia those two sentences add up to 12 months. Even if you got out after six months, for the Australian legislator you are an ex convict who was sentenced to 12 months, which counts as having a substantial criminal record.
At the same time, there are certain offenses, such as sexual crimes, drug or human trafficking, and terrorist activities which make you ineligible for a visa no matter how much time you spent in jail.
Also, when you apply for a visa you need to disclose if you have criminal charges pending.
How can you travel to Australia with a substantial criminal record?
People with a substantial criminal record as defined under Australian legislation need not despair. They might still fulfill their dream of visiting Australia but it will be a more difficult process.
In this situation, you need to apply for a full Visitor (Subclass 600) visa and be prepared to prove you are not a danger to the Australian society. As part of the process, you will have to provide a background check listing all the convictions in your country or from any other country where you’ve been a resident for more than 12 months. At the same time, you will have to pass a Police Character Check, which is very detailed. The aim of Australian character checks is to make sure you’ve changed your life after doing time and you’re no longer dangerous. These applications will be reviewed by a case officer and their decision is final.
If you do have a substantial criminal record, it is in your best interest to cooperate fully with your case officer and do everything they tell you to do. Keep in mind that having your application rejected means you will never be allowed to visit Australia.