As the community stance on the prevention of family violence intensifies, the Department of Immigration & Border Protection (DIBP) has recently announced changes to criteria for Australian citizen or permanent resident sponsors for Partner and Prospective Marriage visa applications.
To assist with keeping visa applicants safe, sponsors are now required to:
- Provide an Australian (and/or foreign) Police Clearance when requested by the DIBP; and
- Consent to their convictions of ‘relevant offences’ to the visa applicant.
If consent is not provided by the sponsor, the visa application will be refused.
If the Police Clearances lists a ‘relevant offence’ and a ‘significant criminal record’, the visa application will be refused unless the DIBP considers it unreasonable to do so.
A ‘relevant offence’ includes offences committed in Australia or overseas including violence (ie. murder, assault), harassment/intimidation, breaching Apprehended Violence Order, weapons offences, people smuggling, trafficking, kidnapping or aiding/abetting such offences.
A ‘significant criminal record’ is considered to be a term of imprisonment of 12 months or more, or terms of imprisonment that together amount to over 12 months.
The Sponsorship application will not be refused if a sponsor has a ‘relevant offence’ conviction but does not have a ‘significant criminal record’.
These Sponsorship changes follow existing Migration Regulations which allow visa applicants an avenue to still obtain a visa if the relationship with the sponsor has broken down and the visa applicant (or member of their family unit) was the victim of family violence.
The new changes apply to any Sponsorship applications lodged from 18 November 2016. The character history of both the visa applicant and sponsor should be considered prior to lodging any Partner or Prospective Marriage visa application.