Entry by Migrants

Based on the contribution of Michael Clothier for The Law Handbook 2016 published by Fitzroy Legal Service, as amended by Zouheir Dalati and current to 20 April 2018

Three types of permanent entry visas

Australia’s immigration policy is stated to be selective but non-discriminatory in terms of race, nationality, creed or sex, and to be guided by principles of humanity, equity and compassion.

The Migration Regulations provide more than 40 types of permanent entry visa, which can be conveniently divided into three major groups:
  1. Family migration visas (see Permanent entry visa: family migration);
  2. Economic migration visas (see Permanent entry visa: economic migration); and
  3. Humanitarian/refugee visas (see Permanent entry visa: humanitarian entry).


The principles on which the federal government’s immigration policy is based, as published in the Department’s Procedures Advice Manual, are:
  • The Australian Government alone will determine who will be admitted to Australia;
  • Admission will be consistent with the laws enacted by the federal parliament to regulate immigration;
  • Only an Australian citizen has a “right” to enter Australia;
  • Immigration policies will be determined by Australia’s national interests as defined by major government policies and strategies for Australia’s social, economic and cultural development. Policies will seek a harmony of outcomes between economic and social interests and respond to Australia’s foreign policy interests;
  • Immigration will respond to the needs of Australian citizens or Australian permanent residents by upholding, in accordance with government policies and strategies, close family reunion and humanitarian assistance;
  • Immigration policies will be non-discriminatory on grounds of race, colour, national or ethnic origin, sex and religion;
  • Applicants may be considered for immigration as individuals and family units, but will not be considered as community groups;
  • Migrants are expected to respect the institutions and principles that are basic to Australian society, including parliamentary democracy, the rule of law and equality before the law, freedom of the individual, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, equality of the sexes and universal education. Reciprocally, Australia will be committed to the equal participation of migrants in society;
  • Citizenship will be given due recognition as a symbol of commitment to Australia and its future;
  • Immigration policies will be determined and implemented in such a way as to maintain and protect the health, safety and good order of Australian society.

Recent policy

In recent years, immigration policy has served a range of national and community purposes, including:
  • reuniting close family members in recognition of kinship ties and the bonds of mutual dependency and support within families;
  • responding to Australia’s international humanitarian objectives in respect of refugees;
  • supplementing the supply of skills needed in the labour force;
  • promoting the inflow of overseas technology and expansion of the business sector; and
  • assisting in Australia’s population growth.

Criteria for entry

Generally, applicants seeking entry for the purpose of residence must satisfy the following criteria:
  1. They must attend an interview with an Australian migration officer overseas and receive a satisfactory evaluation of various economic and personal factors relevant to satisfactory settlement in Australia;
  2. They must be of good character (this involves a police and security check);
  3. They must be of good health and undergo a medical examination by a medical practitioner approved by the Australian Government;
  4. They must have the intention to reside permanently in Australia; and
  5. They must satisfy the specific criteria under the regulations for their class of permanent visa.

Health and character tests

All people who migrate to Australia must, before their entry is approved, pass a full medical examination and a police and security check.

Migration review rights

For the review rights available where a sponsored or nominated person is refused migrant entry, see Seeking review of a decision.

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