Now-infamous US pick-up artist Julien Blanc was unceremoniously booted out of Australia last Thursday night when Immigration Minister Scott Morrison cancelled his visa. “The matter was raised with us, and we had it investigated and this fellow looked at,” Morrison told Sky News. “This guy wasn’t putting forward political ideas, he was putting forward abuse that was derogatory to women and that’s just something, those are values abhorred in this country.”

Just how bad to you have to be to get kicked out of Australia? We take a look at the precedents.

Just what is so bad about Julien Blanc?

Blanc is a consultant for Real Social Dynamics, which claims to be the world’s largest dating coaching company. He shot to fame in Australia when a video of him lecturing young men in Japan went viral and resulted in a campaign to disrupt his Melbourne appearances. Some of his advice included physically and sexually assaulting women.

How does Scott Morrison decide who can stay and who must go?

Much of the Immigration Minister’s power resides in section 501 of the Migration Act, which allows for the refusal or cancellation of visas based on the grounds of character. According to the Immigration Department’s annual report, in 2013-014 the Immigration Minister conducted 693 character assessments, resulting in 76 cancellations and 81 refusals. There are several reasons an individual can fail a character test:

  • The person has a significant criminal record, or committed an offence during detention;
  • The person has involvement with a group known to have criminal elements;
  • The person’s past and present criminal and general conduct; or
  • There is a risk the person would harass, vilify, incite discord, or pose a danger to the community.

Who else has failed the character test?

The character test has resulted in more than a few noteworthy cases. Prominent Holocaust denier David Irving has been denied entry to Australia multiple times since 1993. Then-immigration minister Gerry Hand denied Irving a visa, believing he was “likely to become involved in activities disruptive to, or violence threatening harm to, the Australian community or a group within the Australian community”. Bilal Philips, a Canadian sheikh linked to the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing, was denied entry to Australia in 2007 on the grounds he was a public safety risk.

But it’s not just controversial historians and religious fanatics getting blocked or deported — US rapper Snoop Dogg was denied a visa in 2007 due to a string of criminal convictions. “He doesn’t seem the sort of bloke we want in this country,” said then-immigration minister Kevin Andrews. It’s not just high-profile cases, either: around 70 non-citizens have visas cancelled and are deported every year for gathering criminal convictions in Australia.

Is it just bad seeds who are kicked out?

The vast majority of visa cancellations are far less exotic. Chief among these are sections 109 and 116 of the act, which pertain to the submission of incorrect information or false documents (which is how people-smuggler Captain Emad was deported in 2012), and failure to comply with the conditions of the visa. The latter is of great concern to Australia’s half million or so international students: in 2011-12 the federal government cancelled more than 10,000 visas for failure to meet course progress benchmarks, conditions breaches, and “non-genuine” applicants. The controversial 457 visa also has plenty of cancellations — around 28,000 in 2013-14 alone — but these are  mostly voluntary cancellations due to the termination of employment. If an individual’s visa is cancelled for either of these two reasons, the visas of his or her immediate family members are also revoked.

While a few cases generate headlines each year, most visa cancellations occur for relatively banal reasons, and more than 99% of Australia’s 5.5 million temporary residents comply with their visa conditions and retain their immigration status.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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