Australian Visa Cancellation on Character Grounds

What is Australian Visa Cancellation on Character Grounds?


Are you also afraid of visa cancellation or rejection by the Australian Government? Thinking about the key reasons for visa cancellation on character grounds? How to avoid visa cancellation on character grounds in Australia? Wait for a moment. This blog post is for you and you must read it if you really want to proceed with your visa application in a smooth manner. 

Australia offers a pollution-free environment, a better education system, a highly paying job sector, and a quality lifestyle, making it a top-notch destination to live, study, or work. Every year, the Australian government receives a large number of visa applications and welcomes a large population of students and workers in the country. However, the rate of visa rejections and cancellations is also quite high as the Department of Home Affairs put stringent measures in place to ensure a better immigration system. 

A non-citizen application for a visa may be denied, or their visa may be canceled under section 501 of the Migration Act 1958 if they fail to meet the requirement of passing the “character test” set by the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship. Therefore, you must be aware of the visa cancellation on character grounds to prevent visa rejection or refusal.  Before heading towards the discussion let’s find out what is Migration Act 1958 first.


The Migration Act 1958

The Migration Act 1958 is an important component of Australian legislation that controls immigration and visa issuance. This Act establishes the legal foundation for individuals to enter and remain in Australia. It specifies the requirements for various visa categories, the duration of stay, and the situations in which a visa may be revoked or denied. The Migration Act provides authority to the Department of Home Affairs and the Minister for Home Affairs to handle immigration-related issues. After the implementation of this act, the Government rejected approximately 1152 applications from different nationalities.  Here is the breakdown of rejected visa applications of different countries.


Let’s explore together what the stats say about visa cancellation after the implementation of section 501 and what the common reasons for visa rejection are.


Visa Cancellation Statistics on Character Grounds

On December 11, 2014, the Australian Government introduced a new mandatory cancellation law to improve the broken immigration system of Australia. Since then, the Department has canceled approximately 1,215 visa applications until March 2016 under section 501 of the Migration Act. 

As of April 11, 2016, there were 865 imprisoned individuals with pending Section 501 cancellation assessments; these individuals may be subject to mandatory cancellation under Section 501 (3A). Of the 1,152 obligatory visa cancellations, 880 filed a revocation request, and almost 220 appeals about revocation have been resolved. Of these, 34 were either “Withdrawn” or else determined to be “Invalid” because their applications were submitted after the deadline. 

Now, let’s have a look at the data about visa cancellation on character grounds for the fiscal years 2018-19 and 2022-23.

Visa Cancellation Statistics on Character Grounds



Wondering what could be the reasons for visa cancellation? Here is the detailed overview of these reasons so you have a better understanding of them to avoid any mistakes during the visa application process.


What are the Reasons for an Australian visa Cancellation?

The Department of Home Affairs will normally inform you of their intention to consider canceling your visa if you are in Australia or have received immigration clearance. You will have the chance to explain to the Government why they shouldn’t cancel your visa. However, your visa may be canceled due to the following reasons.

1. Paying for Sponsorship

If you are responsible for paying for the sponsorship of your visa, the Australian Government may cancel it. However, the decision for cancellation is taken by considering the following situations;

  • Your intention to speak up. 
  • Whether you started the sponsorship payment or if you participated in it.
  • If threats or exploitation led to your payments, the Government might not be able to terminate your visa. If so, you should provide all the information to the Department.

Important: You will have an opportunity to argue against the cancellation of your visa. However, you have to provide proof that demonstrates the depth of your connections to Australia and your involvement in the Australian community.


2. Changing the Course 

The Australian Government will cancel your visa if your course of study is completed and you are no longer enrolled in a course. You will have three months to leave Australia or reapply for a different visa if you finish the course required for your student visa. The Department will cancel your visa if,

  • You finish the course for which your student visa was issued, and you don’t depart Australia or reapply for a visa within the allotted three months.
  • You do not depart Australia or seek a new visa within 28 days of finishing the course. 
  • You are studying more than one course under one visa, finishing a course early, and having a gap of two months between courses.\


3. Importing Offensive Products

The Minister has the authority to terminate your temporary visa if you bring inappropriate items and materials without authorization. These materials illustrate or deal with issues related to sexual offenses, drug abuse or addiction, criminal activity, brutality, violence, or repulsive events that would offend a responsible adult. So, bringing these items will ultimately lead to your visa rejection in Australia.


4. Not Meeting the Character Requirements

According to the Migration Act, if a person meets any of the requirements listed in subsection 501, they are considered to have failed the character test. Four major categories can be used to classify visa cancellation on character grounds:

  • A significant criminal history.
  • Conviction for offenses involving immigration detention.
  • Poses a serious danger of certain future behaviors.
  • Connection with people who are suspected of committing crimes in the past, present, or future.

Direction No. 55 provides additional guidance about the interpretation and application of these grounds. Let’s discuss these categories in detail;

1. Substantial Criminal History- What is it?

“Do you know the most common reason for visa cancellation in Australia is having a substantial criminal history.”

If a person has a “substantial criminal record,” as defined by paragraph 501(7), they will not be able to pass the character test. A person’s “substantial criminal record” for the intention of the character test is defined as follows: A person who has been

  • Condemned to death or life in prison
  • Sentenced to imprisonment for a period of 12 months
  • Found not guilty of a crime due to mental illness or insanity.
  • Sentenced to two or more terms of imprisonment totaling two years or more. 

Even in cases where there is compensation for an offense, a person with a “substantial criminal record” will fail the character test. However, under section 501, in the second stage, when the decision-maker may consider mitigating considerations.


2. Conviction for immigration detention offense

Subsection 501 (6) states that if a person commits an offense while in immigration detention, the authority to deny or revoke their visa will be activated by their criminal behavior, even if the offense is not significant enough to result in a 12-month jail term. Due to the circumstances surrounding the commission of the offense, a person may fail the character test even though the level of criminality is lower.


3. Connection with people who are suspected of committing crimes

According to subsection 501(6), if a person “has or has had an association with someone else, or with a group or organization, whom the Minister reasonably suspects has been or is involved in criminal conduct,” he cannot pass the character test. The decision-makers are required to consider other factors, such as the relationship’s nature and duration while defining an “association” for the objective of the character test.


4. Significant danger of certain future conduct 

In the event that the person was permitted entry or continued presence in Australia, there is a risk that they will commit crimes there; 

  • Harass, molest, intimidate, or stalk someone else in Australia.
  • Attack a section of the Australian population.
  • Propagate discord within the population.
  • Pose a threat to the population, either by engaging in violent acts that could endanger the community or a portion of it or by engaging in other acts that could cause harm.


5. Child-related sexual offenses 

If a court in Australia or another foreign country finds someone guilty of one or more child-related sexual offenses and finds evidence supporting a charge against them for such an offense—even if they were found not guilty—that person fails the character test.


What to Do If a Visa Gets Rejected or Canceled?

You might be entitled to request a review of the Government’s decision if they cancel your visa. However, if the Minister personally made the decision, you cannot appeal it. The autonomous Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) is in charge of conducting a merits review of departmental determinations, including those related to the rejection of visas. Appeal periods are quite stringent. 

The Department provides the deadline for submitting a written application in the letter notifying you. So, you have to submit the application within the provided time period. In the event that you feel the decision of visa cancelation was made unlawfully, you have the option to request judicial review. You might choose to get independent legal counsel or ask a certified migration agency for help with your immigration status.

Book an appointment with Personnel Calendar using SetMore



What’s the reason for my visa refusal or cancellation?

If you fail the character test, the Minister and the Department of Home Affairs have the authority to deny or cancel your visa. However, in certain circumstances, the decision maker may choose not to cancel your visa even if you fail the character test. But it happens rarely. Therefore, you must be careful while applying for an Australian visa.

Can I reapply if my visa is canceled?

The good news is that you may get your canceled visa back under certain conditions. It occurs:

  • By effectively requesting a tribunal or court to review the decision to terminate the visa. 
  • By effectively submitting an application for revocation if your visa has been suspended in accordance with the required cancellation conditions.

How many Australian visa applications were granted in 2023?

Here is the data for student visa applications in Australia in 2023

  • Higher education has a success rate of about 23.3%. 
  • Postgraduate courses have an 18.9% success rate. 
  • Vocational and educational training has an 18.9% success rate.
  • The ELICOS sector has an 82.8% success rate.

What are the common reasons for Australian visa rejection?

The following are the most common reasons for an Australian visa application rejection;

  • Inconsistent application form.
  • Fraudulent or missing documents.
  • Invalid passport.
  • Financial instability.
  • Problems with previous immigration history.
  • Unable to meet the certain character and health requirements.


Final Thoughts

So, this is the complete picture of the visa cancellation on character grounds under section 501 of the Migration Act. You must be aware of every step of the visa application process. No doubt, the application process is very complicated and challenging. Therefore, I would recommend you to seek professional help in order to avoid confusion. Whether you need assistance regarding the preparation of the EOI or want to process the visa application under the experience of professional agents, The Migration has got you covered. With MARA-certified agents in Australia, they provide authentic and cost-effective consultation. Book an appointment now and enjoy a hassle-free service.

I, Samavia Shahid, am providing guidance to aspiring Australian migrants through my blogs. I share comprehensive information regarding complex visa pathways that will guide you towards the right course of action to acquire your immigration goals.