Applications for Australian Citizenship
Individuals holding permanent residency in Australia, who have lived in the country for the requisite amount of time and who meet all other necessary criteria, have the option to apply to be granted Australian citizenship. Anyone granted citizenship of Australia will have the same rights as any other citizen of Australia. This includes the right to an Australian passport, the right to take part and vote in Australian elections and the right to take up employment with the Australian Defence Force or Australian Public Service. Citizenship also comes with responsibilities, including the obligation to undertake jury service if called upon, and to participate in the defence of Australia if necessary.
You should expect to pay at least AU$490 for an application for citizenship by conferral.
Outlined below are the basic eligibility requirements for an application for citizenship of Australia by conferral. In most cases, these will be the relevant criteria to consider for potential applicants, but it is possible that additional criteria may be applicable depending on each individual’s personal circumstances.
Entitlements of Australian citizenship
Citizens of Australia are entitled to:
- submit an application for an Australian passport
- travel to and from Australia freely
- request assistance from Australian consulates and embassies
- participate and vote in Australian elections, referenda and plebiscites
- stand for election to Parliament, providing that they are not dual citizens and are over 18
- register their children born in another country as Australian citizens
Rights and responsibilities of Australian citizenship
All citizens of Australia have a responsibility to:
- act in a manner consistent with Australian democratic values
- respect the liberties and rights of Australia and its residents
- obey Australian law
- vote in referenda and elections
- if called upon, serve on a jury
- if necessary, defend Australia
- By birth: Individuals born in Australia to a permanent resident or Australian citizen are automatically Australian citizens
- By descent: Children of citizens of Australia who are born abroad are usually granted citizenship of Australia
- By grant: Non-citizens of Australia can submit an application to have Australian citizenship conferred upon them
CITIZENSHIP BY CONFERRAL
This route is open to individuals who have held permanent residency in Australia for at least one year, and who have lawfully lived in Australia for a minimum period of four years.
NB: New Zealand citizens who hold permanent residency of Australia may be eligible for citizenship via this route if they held a Special Category Visa (SCV) and were either in Australia on 26 February 2001 or spent a minimum of one year in Australia between 26 February 1999 and 26 Februrary 2001
The typical residence requirements for Australian citizenship by conferral require that the applicant:
- has been lawfully resident in Australia for a minimum period of 4 years
- has not spent more than one year outside Australia in the previous four years
- has not spent more than 90 days outside Australia in the previous year
- intends to live permanently in Australia and to ‘maintain a close and continuing connection’ with the country
In limited circumstances, applicants may be able to apply for a variation to the residence requirement.
Applicants are expected by the Department of Home Affairs (DOHA) to submit their overseas travel history since turning 18 alongside their application for citizenship.
Applicants must also be 18 or over, and meet the Australian Government’s good character requirements.
Applicants aged under 60 years of age will be required to take a citizenship test.
Calculate your period of permanent residency
When submitting your application, you will be required to provide information on how long you have had permanent residency in Australia.
If your permanent resident visa was awarded after you first arrived in the country, the date that your permanent residence began will be the date that visa was awarded. If your visa was granted while you were outside Australia, the first date of your permanent residence will be the date on which you arrived in Australia using this visa.
Applications for citizenship require payment of a AUD 540 fee, though some individuals may be able to request a concession.
Do you want to know if you are eligible for citizenship of Australia? Perhaps you know you are eligible and want to start your application! Whatever your needs and circumstances, book a consultation to learn how we can give your citizenship application the best chance of success.
New Zealand Citizens
New Zealand citizens will usually be granted a Special Category visa (subclass 444) upon arrival in Australia if they have not first secured another type of visa. This is a temporary rather than permanent visa and is therefore not suitable as a pathway to Australian citizenship.
CITIZENSHIP APPLICATION PROCESS
Stage 1 – Registering your application
The first step of the journey towards Australian citizenship by conferral is to prepare and submit your citizenship application, as well as any supporting documentation which shows that you meet the residence and other requirements to be granted citizenship. The Department of Home Affairs (DOHA) will then consider your application and contact you to let you know if you are considered eligible for Australian citizenship.
Stage 2 – The Citizenship Test
If the DOHA determines that you are eligible for citizenship, you will be invited to meet with a case officer and to take the Australian citizenship test. The test is made up of questions relating to what it means to be an Australian citizen, specifically their rights and obligations and on life in Australia. The Australian citizenship test is mandatory for each eligible adult who applies, and the information needed to pass the test can be found in the Australian citizenship test resource book.
Stage 3 – Citizenship Ceremony
Once your application has been approved by DOHA and you have met with the case officer and achieved a pass mark in the Australian citizenship test, the final stage in becoming a citizen of Australia is to attend a citizenship ceremony. Usually, this will be within three months of approval of your application, though the precise wait will vary depending on the workload and scheduling of your local council. The ceremony consists of taking the Australian Citizenship Pledge alongside other successful applicants, after which you will become an Australian citizen.
NB: Most applicants will be expected to attend a citizenship ceremony to finalise the process of becoming a citizen of Australia. Exemptions to this requirement are possible, but extremely rare.
Refusal of applications for Australian citizenship
The Australian government is able to deny a citizenship application on the following grounds:
- The applicant’s identity is unable to be reliably confirmed
- The applicant is considered to represent a risk to Australia’s national security
- The applicant does not meet one or more of the general or special residence requirements (and is not exempt)
- The applicant is part of an ongoing criminal investigation or court case
- The applicant has, within the previous 12 months, renounced their citizenship of Australia.
Individuals who may become stateless if denied citizenship may receive special consideration.
Appeals against a decision not to grant citizenship can be lodged with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. This must happen with the time limit specified in the letter notifying the applicant of the refusal of their application.
2023 Amendments to Australian Citizenship legislation
The Australian Citizenship (Permanent Resident) Determination (LIN 22/103) 2022- F2022L01628 has determined that citizens of New Zealand who have had a special category visa and a Subclass 189 (Skilled – Independent) visa through the dedicated ‘New Zealand stream’ granted between 31 December 2021 and 1 July 2023 are considered to have become permanent residents of Australia as of 1 January 2022. This applies to holders of both primary and secondary visas, but not to individuals whose presence in Australia is of a consular or diplomatic nature (or as the relative of an individual on consular or diplomatic assignment).
Citizens of New Zealand for whom this change is relevant will now be able to meet the residence requirements for citizenship earlier, with some possibly eligible to apply immediately if they have been awarded a Subclass 189 visa through the New Zealand stream.
The Australian Citizenship Amendment (Translation Requirements for Applications) Regulations 2022 – F2022L01667 simplifies and clarifies the legal text relating to the requirement in the Citizenship Act to provide English translations of supporting documents appended to a citizenship application.
Both instruments came into effect on 1 January 2023.