Australian citizenship

Want to become an Australian citizen? Intending to apply for dual citizenship?

Visapath can assist you. We will check your eligibility and guide you through the whole process.

Australian citizenship and Permanent Residency

Permanent residence in Australia does not necessarily require Australian citizenship. Individuals with permanent residency status basically have the same rights as Australian citizens. However, there are some situations in which citizens have certain privileges that permanent residents do not. In accordance with the Australian National Citizenship Act 2007, citizenship may be granted on the basis of birth or descent, and may also be granted on application provided all the necessary conditions are met.

Benefits of being an Australian citizen

  • Keep your right of return to and residence in Australia: Other than Australian permanent residents who have only limited travel rights and can even lose their permanent visa status after longer absence from Australia, an Australian citizens can stay outside of Australia for an unlimited time and keep the right to return to Australia without having to apply for a visa. Furthermore, while a permanent resident can be removed or deported (e.g. for law enforcement reasons) or refused a further Australian visa, this is not the case for Australian citizens.
  • Australian passport: As an Australian citizen, you are entitled to an Australian passport. This passport is not only one of the world’s best passports to travel on, it enables you to fast-track through the SmartGates at Australian airports and therefore avoid long queues and waiting times upon arrival in Australia.
  • Right to vote and seeking election: The right to vote is reserved for Australian citizens only. As a citizen you have your say and can vote in any election: federal, state or territory elections, municipal, and in a referendum. Voting is actually mandatory for Australian citizens. If you would like to take a more active part in shaping Australia’s future, Australian citizenship gives you the right to hold many types of elected positions. (However, in order to become a member of the Federal Parliament, you must not hold a dual citizenship, unless you can prove that you have made all effort to have your other citizenship revoked.)
  • Work in federal government and defence jobs: Permanent residents have the right to work in Australia without visa restrictions. However, several jobs in the Australian’s federal government sector require you to be an Australian citizen. These include jobs in the Australian police and defence force as well as in the Australian foreign affairs and trade department.
  • Get Australian consular help while overseas: When travelling abroad, Australian citizens can seek consular assistance from the local Australian embassy or consulate in case of emergencies. An Australian embassy or consulate can, for example issue replacement passports, provide details of local doctors and hospitals in a medical emergency, provide assistance if you’re the victim of a serious assault or other crime, consult with you if arrested in prison, provide advice if a family member dies overseas and even provide emergency loans in exceptional situations.
  • Registering children born overseas as Australian citizens by descent: Children born outside of Australia to parents who are Australian citizens can be registered as Australian citizens by descent and have, therefore, the same rights and privileges as children born in Australia.
  • Financial assistance for higher education: Although permanent residents can enrol in Australian education institutions as domestic students and pay lower fees than international students, they are not entitled to receive a HECS-HELP loan, a financial assistance program which allows you to defer your study fees until you are earning enough to begin repaying it. This special support is reserved to Australian citizens only.

When can you apply for citizenship?

Individuals of other nationalities can apply for Australian citizenship by conferral after having lived in Australia for a specified time if certain requirements are met.

The most important requirements at a glance:

  • Aged over 18
  • Holder of a valid permanent resident permit
  • Submission of a police certificate of good conduct
  • Meeting the residency requirement:
    • Having lived continuously and legally in Australia for at least four years, 12 months of which as a permanent resident
    • Having not been absent for more than 12 months in the last 4 years and not more than 90 days in the last year.
  • Passed the Australian citizenship test and demonstrated sufficient English language skills
  • Integration into the Australian community and intention to continue living in Australia or to maintain a close relationship with Australia
  • Currently in Australia

Certain exceptions exist for children under the age of 16, who do not need to meet the residency requirements and may be included in the parents’ application, provided that they are permanent residents. A spouse or partner of an Australian citizen does not automatically gain citizenship through marriage; they must meet the above-mentioned criteria as well. In some cases, however, the residency requirement may be waived in whole or in part.

Want to apply for Australian citizenship?

You would like to become an Australian citizen? Get more information about how to meet the eligibility criteria, required documentation, associated costs and how it works.

The process of becoming an Australian citizen

Citizenship application

If you are able to meet all formal requirements for Australian citizenship, you can submit a formal application. In this application, you have to give detailed information regarding your personal circumstances, identity documents, details of your visa and travel history and provide evidence that you are a person of good character. This application is then assessed and reviewed by the Australian authorities.

Citizenship test and interview

If your application is approved, you will be invited to sit the citizenship test. This is a formal test to assess the applicant’s knowledge of Australia and future civic duties, as well as their English language skills. It is usually a multiple-choice test. In exceptional cases, an interview is required. Excluded from this test are persons under the age of 18 or over 60, persons with a serious disability, and children of Australian nationals. The Australian Department of Home Affairs provides free practice tests, tutorials, and brochures (also in a variety of different languages) that can be used in preparation for the citizenship test.

Award of Australian citizenship

After passing the citizenship test, you will be invited to attend an Australian citizenship ceremony within 12 months. These ceremonies generally take place about six months after approval of the application, but since they fall under the responsibility of local authorities, dates may vary. At this formal event, where you are welcome to bring friends and family, you will have to make the Australian Citizenship Pledge, in which you officially accept the responsibility and privileges of Australian citizenship. Only once this pledge is made do you officially become an Australian citizen and receive a citizenship certificate that can be used to apply for an Australian passport. After becoming a citizen, you are required to sign up for the Australian electoral roll, as Australia operates a compulsory voting policy.

Cancellation of citizenship

Approval of an individual’s application for citizenship is not the final step in the journey to becoming an Australian citizen. Legally, the individual is not an Australian citizen until they have attended the official citizenship ceremony and made their Australian Citizenship Pledge, within 12 months of their application being approved. If a person has not attended their citizenship ceremony within this timeframe or their Permanent Resident visa is cancelled, their application for citizenship expires. For persons who have already been granted Australian citizenship, this may be revoked if it was obtained by giving false or misleading information, providing fraudulent documents, or if serious criminal records have not been disclosed. Furthermore, citizenship can be revoked if the person has been involved in terrorist activities. Additionally, according to the National Citizenship Act 2007, the state also has the right to cancel children’s citizenship if their parents’ citizenship has been cancelled.

Dual citizenship

According to Australian law, it is possible to be a citizen of several countries. No special requirements apply. Nevertheless, in many cases the acceptance of Australian citizenship involves relinquishing one’s previous nationality, since dual citizenship policies depend on the respective laws of all involved countries.

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