Key Terms: How to become an Australian Citizen - Permanent Residency (PR) - Work Visa - Citizenship by conferral and decent - Am I eligible to be an Australian Citizen
Once we have helped our clients to achieve permanent residency (PR), the next question clients often ask is, “How do I become an Australian citizen?”
First, we provide a summary of the criteria and make sure the client understands all the requirements. We then work closely with the client to ensure they are eligible to become a citizen by fulfilling all the requirements.
Other than being able to stay in Australia forever, or being able to move to New Zealand, Australian Citizenship offers plenty of benefits. With that being said becoming an Australian Citizen can be a daunting task for some. While there are many requirements in becoming a citizen, there are just as many benefits.
Benefits of Australian Citizenship
A benefit of Australia citizenship that is only paralleled by a handful of other countries is an amazing passport. An Australian passport allows you entry into 157 countries without a visa. The Australian passport is commonly ranked in the top 10 most powerful passports.
Another benefit of becoming a citizen is that you are granted the right to vote. Not only are you given the right to vote but it is compulsory. Australia is one of only 12 countries in the world that requires mandatory voting, but at least you know that your vote will be heard.
Other benefits include but are not limited to:
- No need to renew your Resident Return Visa every 5 years
- You can join the army
- You can serve on a jury
- Being eligible for certain Australian government positions
- Such as a politicion
- Avoid the risk of having your permanent residence visa cancelled on character grounds.
- Ability to spend unlimited time outside of Australia and be entitled to return at anytime
Pathways to Becoming an Australian Citizen
The two most common pathways to becoming an Australian citizen are:
- Citizenship by conferral
- Citizenship by descent
Citizenship by conferral is the most common pathway for permanent residents. If you migrated to Australia and meet the eligibility requirements you can apply for citizenship by conferral. Confer means to give, so citizenship by conferral means to be given citizenship.
People in this category can include:
- Spouses of Australian citizens
- New Zealand and British citizens who have lived here for a long time
- Children of a former Australian citizens
- Papuans born before independence in 1975
- People who arrived under the Commonwealth Child Migration Scheme
- Refugees and humanitarian entrants
The citizenship by descent pathway is applicable for:
- Applicants born outside Australia
- Applicants that have at least one parent that was an Australian citizen when you were born.
Main Requirement for Australian Citizenship by Conferral
The main requirement for becoming an Australian citizen is your period of residence in Australia. Before you are able to apply for citizenship you must have:
- resided in Australia for a specified number of years (currently, 4 years)
- spent a specified period of time as an Australian permanent resident (currently, 12 months)
If you were granted a permanent resident visa before you arrived in Australia, your permanent residence date is the date that you arrived in Australia on that visa. If you were granted a permanent resident visa after you arrived in Australia, your permanent residence date will be the date that the visa was granted.
For more information on citizenship by conferral click here.
While your period of residence may be a main requirement it is not the only. You will need to meet the character requirements. This means you that you will have to be deemed as, not a threat to the Australian society and community.
- Any applicant for citizenship by conferral, whether under or over 18 years of age, must not be approved for citizenship in certain circumstances relating to criminal offences.
For more information on good character and offences click here.
Another requirement when applying for citizenship is passing the citizenship test. The citizenship test is designed to assess whether you have an adequate knowledge of Australia and the responsibilities and privileges of Australian citizenship.
In general, the test is designed to assess your:
- Basic knowledge of the English language
- Knowledge of Australian history and values
The age at which adult applicants for Australian citizenship are exempt from the requirement to have a basic knowledge of English has been raised to 60 years.
Note: The Australian citizenship test may change upon departments discretion.
For more information on the citizenship test click here.
Resident Requirement Exemptions
Exemptions to the requirements are not necessarily common, but you may be able to be exempted if:
- You’re the spouse of an Australian citizen
- And can show a close and continuing association with Australia
- You’re employed in a specialist role which required you to travel overseas
- You cannot meet the residence requirements because of an administrative error by the Department
Eligibility for Australian Citizenship by Decent
There are two cases in which you may be eligible to receive citizenship by decent.
- You were born outside of Australia
- At least one of your parents was an Australian citizen at the time of your birth
If you were born outside Australia, or at least one of your parents was an Australian citizen when you were born, you are eligible to apply for your citizenship. With that being said, you will still need to prove it to Home Affairs by providing identity documents and supporting documents.
You will need to provide three documents that, all together, show the applicants:
- Birth name, date of birth and gender
- Current residential address
- Signature, if you are aged 18 years and over.
Supporting documents are evidence that one of your parents was an Australian citizen at the time of your birth. These documents would include:
- A full Australian birth certificate
- Australian citizenship certificate or naturalisation certificate
- Australian passport.
If the applicant is 18 years of age or over, you will also need to provide good character documents. In short, you must provide a penal clearance certificate from every country you spent more than 90 days in.
Lastly, you must submit your documents and pay the application fee of AUD 230 to apply for your Australian citizenship by descent. You can apply both online or in paper form but we recommend that you apply online.
For a more detailed list of requirements requirements for citizenship by decent click here.
Do you need help with an Australian visa application?
Work Visa Lawyers Can Assist with Australian Citizenship Applications especially if:
- You are unsure if you meet the residency requirements
- You are claiming exemption from the residency requirements
- You have a previous criminal conviction or charge pending
At Work Visa Lawyers we are experienced in assisting applicants in all matters relating to Australian visa applications. Our areas of expertise include Skilled Migration visas, Business Skills Migration visas, Employer Sponsored Work Visas, Partner and other Family Migration visas as well as the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) Review, Judicial Review and Ministerial Intervention.
If you require further information regarding your Australia visa options you can contact us through:
(08) 8351 9956 or +61 8 8351 9956