Australian Citizenship provides a number of privileges, including the following:
- Applying for an Australian passport for convenient international travel.
- Seeking assistance from an Australian embassy/consulate when abroad.
- Pursuing a career in the Australian Public Service or the Australian Defence Force.
- Registering children born overseas as Australian citizens by descent.
- Exercising your right to vote in Federal and State/Territory elections and referendums.
- Running for elected office in Parliament.
- Serving on a legal jury when required.
You can obtain Australian citizenship most commonly by descent or conferral.
When assessing your application for Australian Citizenship, the Department of Home Affairs ('the Department') may consider the following:
- the length of time you have already lived in Australia;
- your understanding of what it means to be an Australian citizen – responsibilities and privileges of citizenship;
- your knowledge of Australia, including its language (English), history, governance, people, beliefs, laws and values based on freedom, respect, and equality;
- the likelihood you will remain in Australia and/or maintain a close association with Australia.
General Eligibility on Australian Citizenship
- You have been born outside Australia; and
- At least one of your parents was an Australian citizen at the time of your birth.
You will need to provide evidence of your identity; such as a birth certificate, a family or household registration document, marriage or divorce certificate, evidence of any change of name, evidence of residential address, and evidence of identity in the community (Form 1195 Identity Declaration).
In addition, you also need to provide evidence of your parent's Australian citizenship and their residency in Australia.
Further, you must be of good character if you are 18 or over.
Most applicants will become Australian citizens under this pathway.
You may be eligible for Australian citizenship by conferral if:
- you are a permanent resident; or
- a New Zealand citizen holding a Special Category (subclass 444) visa.
You must meet certain Australian citizenship requirements before you apply.
If you are a New Zealand citizen holding a Special Category (subclass 444) visa, recent changes provide you with a more streamlined pathway. Contact us to find out more.
You must have been lawfully residing in Australia for four years before applying for Australian citizenship. This includes:
- at least 12 months as a permanent resident;
- absences from Australia of no more than 12 months in total; and
- absences from Australia of no more than three months in the 12 months immediately before applying.
Children under 16 do not need to meet this general residence requirement but must be permanent residents.
Children over 16 may be exempt from this general residence requirement if meeting this requirement would cause significant hardship or disadvantage, evidence will need to be provided to support your claim.
There are some other exemptions and special circumstances that may apply, for example, it is possible to meet a special residence requirement if you have work that requires you to travel regularly for at least two years before applying for Australian citizenship.
You will be required to sit a citizenship test to show that you have adequate knowledge of Australia and an understanding of the responsibilities and privileges of becoming a citizen.
To meet this requirement, you are required to obtain 75% or higher on the citizenship test and answer all 5 questions on Australian values correctly.
You can download the citizenship test resource booklet Australian Citizenship: Our Common Bond to prepare for your citizenship test. The booklet has been tailored to help prospective citizens learn about Australia's history, traditions, values and national symbols. Applicants aged 16 or 17 years old, or who are aged 60 and over, are exempt from sitting the citizenship test. Those with specific impairments can apply for exemption as well.
Your English language skills will be assessed when sitting the citizenship test and/or attending a citizenship interview.
Applicants aged 16 or 17 years, or who are aged 60 and over, may not be required to have an interview.
To be eligible for Australian citizenship, it is a requirement that you are of good character if you are 18 years or over.
Supporting evidence may include police clearance certificates from all countries you have lived in.
The Department may consider:
- any recorded criminal convictions;
- obligations you may have to a court in Australia or overseas;
- your association with people of concern;
- incidents of reported domestic violence;
- whether you have been honest in your dealings with the Australian community, including providing false or misleading information in relation to a visa or citizenship application.
Discretion and Special Consideration
There are various discretions and special considerations which may vary the requirement to meet general eligibility criteria. These may include:
- being born in Australia and spending the first 10 years of your life here;
- being the spouse/partner of an Australian citizen while residing overseas;
- holding a specific visa and/or having special skills which are of benefit to Australia;
- working in specific employment which requires you to travel outside Australia.
Once you meet the eligibility criteria, you can submit an application for Australian citizenship.
You can apply whilst in or outside of Australia.
The processing time for your application can vary depending on the complexity of your case.
If your application to become a citizen by conferral is approved, you will be invited to participate in an Australian citizenship ceremony and make the Australian Citizenship Pledge after which you will officially become an Australian citizen. After the ceremony, you will be presented with an Australian Citizenship certificate, confirming your new citizenship status.
Alternatively, if you get approved by descent, you do not have to be present for an interview, attend a ceremony, or make the citizenship pledge. The Department will mail an Australian citizenship certificate to you.
Obtaining Australian citizenship is not an overly complicated process, provided you meet eligibility criteria. Keep in mind that immigration laws and processes can change, so it's important to verify the most up-to-date information from official sources.
Contact us if you require any assistance to determine your eligibility and apply for citizenship. We would be pleased to walk you through the whole process.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.