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Fact Sheet 78 - Controversial Visa Applicants

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People who are not Australian citizens require a visa to enter Australia. One of the conditions for the grant of a visa is that the applicant must meet the legal requirements for entry to Australia and, in particular, the Public Interest Criteria.

From time to time, visa applications are received from, or visas are held by, people whose presence in Australia may, because of their activities, reputation, known record or the cause they represent and propagate:

  • vilify or incite discord in the Australian community or a segment of that community
  • represent a danger to the Australian community or a segment of that community
  • be contrary to Australia's foreign policy interests.

Public interest criteria

For such people, Public Interest Criteria 4001 (as it relates to Section 501 of the Migration Act 1958) and 4003 of the Migration Regulations require particular consideration.

The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, or a delegate of the minister, is the competent authority for determining whether a visa applicant, or holder, meets Public Interest Criterion 4001, while a determination under Public Interest Criterion 4003 rests with the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Profile of people of concern

People of concern are those who may meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • the holding of extremist views such as belief in the use of violence as a 'legitimate' means of political expression
  • likelihood of the Australian community or part of the Australian community being vilified or defamed
  • having a record of causing law and order problems, such as when addressing public rallies
  • acting in a way likely to be insensitive in a multicultural society, including advocating within particular ethnic groups the adoption of political, social or religious values well outside those acceptable to Australian society
  • being active in political movements directed towards the non-peaceful overthrow of their own or other governments
  • having planned, participated in, or been active in promoting politically-motivated violence or criminal violence and/or being likely to propagate or encourage such action in Australia
  • being liable to provoke an incident in Australia because of the conjunction of their activities and proposed timing of their visit, and the activities and timing of a visit by another person who may hold opposing views
  • being a war criminal, or a person suspected or accused of war crimes or any association with a person or group involved in war crimes
  • being known to be, or suspected of being, involved in organised crime
  • posing some threat or harm to the Australian community or part of it
  • likelihood of the person’s presence in Australia being contrary to Australia's foreign policy interests
  • claiming to represent a foreign State or government which is not recognised by Australia
  • any other credible material which may be relevant to Public Interest Criteria 4001 or 4003 of the Regulations.

Making a decision

Where we become aware of an application from a person who may fall within these categories, the application must be assessed against the specific requirements of the Migration Act and Regulations.

In appropriate cases, the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection or the Minister for Foreign Affairs is asked to personally consider the application.

In a very small number of cases, the relevant minister will decide that the applicant does not meet the requirements for entry into Australia, and the visa application is refused, or in the case of a person already holding a visa, the visa is cancelled.

Fact Sheet 78. Produced by the National Communications Branch, Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Canberra.
Last reviewed January 2014.

Last reviewed Wednesday 27 August 2014