People who are born in Australia automatically gain citizenship, but for those born elsewhere securing citizenship will mean you must meet certain obligations. One of the main pre-requisites is that an individual must demonstrate that they have a 'good character'.
If you have a past criminal conviction, Immigration officials will need to decide whether you are a reformed character.
A person can apply to become a citizen if they are a permanent resident, a partner or spouse of a citizen, or a refugee.
But what is 'good character'? Outlined in official Australian Citizenship guidelines 'Good character refers to the enduring moral qualities of a person and is an indication whether an applicant will obey the laws of Australia and other commitments made through the pledge should they be approved for citizenship.'
Previous Criminal Convictions
For serious criminal convictions, a significant amount of time should have passed since the offence occurred.
All applicants seeking citizenship must let the Department of Immigration and Border Protection know if they have been found guilty in a court of law which has led to either imprisonment, a good behaviour bond or a fine.
Lesser offences such as speeding or parking infringements don't need to be disclosed. Anyone who has not committed any criminal acts in the 10 years leading up to their application for citizenship, or those who have not been sentenced to more than 30 months in prison are not required to disclose any minor convictions.
Some of the more serious offences listed below may affect citizenship:
- If you have been imprisoned in Australia or have proceedings pending
- If you have been released from jail less than two years after committing a serious offence
- If you are a repeat offender and have served at least two numerous prison sentences, where the total of the terms is two years or more
- If you are subjected to certain conditions imposed by an Australian court such as a good behaviour bond or bound by parole requirements
- If you have been admitted into a psychiatric facility in condition to a serious offence committed in Australia
- If you have had a substantial criminal record which includes being sentenced to life imprisonment or have served a prison sentence of 12 months or more
Getting your case reviewed
If you do have a substantial criminal record and immigration officials refuse your citizenship application, you can seek a review through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. They will look at your case, your past and present conduct along with current behaviour. A decision will then be made as to whether good behaviour since the criminal record outweighs your past offence.
Remember, a criminal record does not necessarily preclude you from becoming a citizen, but will be relevant to an assessment of your character for the purposes of your application.
Migration law can be extremely complex. Here at Visa Solutions Australia, we can help you with all your queries and offer advice whatever your circumstances. Why not give us a call today to find out more?