Entrance to Fowler compound, Villawood Immigration Detention Centre

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship has the power (under section 501 of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth)) to refuse a person’s application for a visa, or cancel a person’s visa, if that person fails to satisfy the Minister that he or she passes the ‘character test’.

Visa refusal or cancellation can have serious consequences for a person, including placement in immigration detention for lengthy periods of time, separation from family and friends, removal and effective exclusion from Australia.

For information about the process of visa refusal or cancellation under section 501 and the human rights concerned raised by the consequences of this process, see the Commission’s Background paper: Human rights issues raised by visa refusal or cancellation under section 501 of the Migration Act.

The Commission has inquired into and reported on a number of complaints of human rights breaches from persons who have had their visa application refused or visa cancelled under section 501 of the Migration Act. Recent Commission reports include:

The Commission has also met with people who are in immigration detention as a result of visa cancellation under section 501 during its visits to immigration detention facilities, and has addressed these issues in its reports. See: