If you are looking to migrate to Australia one of the things that can be an issue is having a record. Australia reserves the right to bar entry to anyone deemed not of a good character. Here are some tips on when a criminal record is likely to be an issue and when it is not.
If it's not a crime in Australia
You may be fine with a criminal record if the items on your record are not a crime in Australia and are offences that may leave you eligible for refugee status. This could include being imprisoned for homosexuality or for being a journalist or member of an opposing political party in a dictatorship.
If it was a minor offence
If you committed a minor offence such as shoplifting in your youth, this will generally not prevent you from migrating. If you have minor offenses the government will look at your record as a whole to see if you are a persistent or repeat offender. This is considered a character issue and the approach will depend on any context to your crime. It can be useful to get some additional character references from people such as employers, school teachers, or members of your church.
If it was a serious offence
If you have committed a serious offence, such as assault, this will be viewed more seriously. Again the government will consider context such as the time since the crime, the severity of the crime and any mitigating circumstances. It can be extremely important to get advice from a migration agent if you have a crime of this nature on your record.
If the crime was drug or gun related
Australia tends to take a strict approach to drug or gun related crimes. Minor crimes such as possession of small amounts of drugs in the past can be explained away with adequate preparation of an application.
It is also likely that the government will review your criminal record to see if you are associated with any organised crime groups or terrorist organisations if you have a record, as these can be grounds for barring entrance to Australia.
If you are uncertain of how a past offence on your criminal record is likely to be viewed when you apply to migrate to Australia, you should meet with a migration agent for more about this topic. They can give you some advice on how to proceed and the best way to strengthen your application.