Visa cancellations on character grounds

If you have a visa to stay or live in Australia (including as a permanent resident), it may be cancelled on character grounds if you have done something wrong. Decisions to refuse a visa, or to cancel a visa, are made by the Minister of Home Affairs, or by someone for the Minister within the Department of Home Affairs (formerly the Department of Immigration and Border Protection).

If you receive either a notice of intention to cancel your visa, or a notice of visa cancellation from the Minister or the Department, you need to act quickly.

There are strict time limits that apply for you to respond to a notice of intention to cancel your visa, or to appeal the decision if your visa has been cancelled. You must comply with these time limits.

Why is my visa being cancelled?

The Minister and the Department for Home Affairs have the power to refuse or cancel a visa on the basis that you do not pass the character test. In some cases, even if you do not pass the character test, the decision maker can decide to not to cancel your visa. 

Depending on exactly why you do not pass the character test, your visa must be cancelled in some situations. You will be given 28 days to ask that the mandatory cancellation be revoked.


Get help

Legal Aid WA gives limited advice in this area. If we are unable to help we can refer you to another organisation that be able to help you.

You need to get legal advice if the cancellation or possible cancellation of your visa is for a reason other than failing to meet the character test.


More information

  • Department of Home Affairs -The Character Requirement
    Sets out the requirements for the character test, the discretionary powers of the Minister or the Department to cancel a visa, and appeals with information on time limits.

  • Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT)
    Information about applying for a review in a migration matter including which decisions can be reviewed and the specific procedures for applicants, including time limits for making an application to the AAT.

  • National Character Consideration Centre on 1300 722 061 or email It is the section of the Department of Home Affairs which deals with cancellation of visas on character grounds. If you need to use an interpreter over the phone contact Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on 131 450.


Reviewed: 18 April 2018


The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.