Obtaining Australian Citizenship
Becoming an Australian citizen is a chance to commit to the Australian community and the place where you have made a life for yourself. It also gives you greater rights than being a permanent resident, including not having to worry about visa cancellation and being able to participate in elections.
If you were born in Australia to a citizen or permanent resident, you will acquire Australian citizenship automatically.
In most other cases, you must apply for Australian citizenship. There are two major streams for gaining citizenship which this page will discuss, and several other pathways for people with very specific circumstances.
Citizenship by Descent or Adoption
You may be eligible for citizenship by descent or adoption if:
- You were born outside of Australia; and
- One of your parents was an Australian citizen when you were born OR,
- You were adopted outside Australia in accordance with the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption or a bilateral agreement; and
- One of your parents was an Australian citizen when you were adopted
If your Australian citizen parent gained their citizenship through descent/adoption, they must have been present in Australia at some point for at least 2 years
Citizenship by Conferral – General Requirements
The government announced changes to eligibility for citizenship by conferral on 20 April 2017, but the new rules are not in place yet. The old eligibility rules still apply right now and they are:
- You are over 18 years old
- You are a permanent resident of Australia
- You have been a permanent resident for at least 1 year
- You meet the residency requirement (have been in Australia for at least 4 years)
- You pass a written test about Australian values
- You are of good character
Citizenship by Conferral – Residency Requirement
The general residency requirement is that you have been in present in Australia for four years. There are many exceptions to this, including:
- You can be absent from Australia for periods totalling up to 12 months in the 4 years before your application.
- You can be absent from Australia for up to 3 months in the 12 months before your application.
- You cannot have been imprisoned at any point during the four-year period unless the circumstances involved mean it would be unreasonable to disqualify you on this basis.
- The residency requirement may be waived if you would suffer significant hardship or disadvantage if you had to satisfy it before becoming an Australian citizen.
- The residency requirement may be waived if you are the spouse or de facto partner of an Australian citizen and have spent a period outside Australia but maintained a close association with Australia during that time.
- If you have a job that requires you to leave Australia on a regular basis, such as a flight attendant, you can still be considered “in Australia”.
Other ways to be eligible for citizenship
Other ways to be eligible for citizenship include:
- If you were born in Australia and were ordinarily resident in Australia for 10 years.
- If you are under 18 and you are a permanent resident of Australia.
- If one of your parents was a former Australian citizen who gave up citizenship because it was not possible for them to be a dual citizen at the time.
- If you were born in Australia and you are not a citizen of any other country, have never been a citizen of any other country and are not entitled to acquire citizenship of any other country.
- If you are a permanent resident and you need to become a citizen in order to engage in activities that are of benefit to Australia.
Red Earth Migration can help
Citizenship law is complex, with many exceptions and caveats. Our expert team can assist you to determine whether you are currently eligible for citizenship, and if not, what you will need in order to be eligible. We can also assist with lodging a complete and accurate citizenship application so that you have the highest chance of approval. Contact us on 08 6161 9239 for a consultation to get started.