Australian citizenship

Australian citizenship

Australian citizenship

As an Australian citizen, you would be making an ongoing commitment to Australia and everything Australia stands for.

Three ways to become an Australian citizen
  1. By birth: If you are born here and one or both of your parents is an Australian citizen or permanent resident of Australia.
  2. By descent: If you are the child of an Australian citizen but you are born overseas, you will generally be granted Australian citizenship.
  3. By Conferral: If you are a non-citizen of Australia you can apply to become an Australian citizen.


Australian Citizen vs Australian Permanent Resident
  1. An Australian Citizen has an automatic right of entry to Australia. An Australian permanent resident will need to ensure they have a permanent visa with a valid travel authority if they wish to return to Australia after their overseas travel.
  2. An Australian Citizen can vote in Australian government elections. In contrast, most permanent residents cannot vote in Australian government elections. Only if an Australian permanent resident was enrolled to vote (as a British subject) prior to 1984, they may be eligible to vote.


General eligibility criteria for Australian citizenship by Conferral

Generally, to apply for Australian citizenship you must:

  • have passed a citizenship test (unless over the age of 60 or less than 18)
  • be a permanent resident at the time of application, and also, at time of the decision
  • satisfy the Australian residence requirement
  • be likely to reside, or to continue to reside, in Australia or to maintain a close and continuing association with Australia
  • Have adequate knowledge of your responsibilities and privileges as a citizen
  • be of good character.

Different requirements apply for children applying for Australian Citizenship.


The residence requirement for Australian Citizenship

All adults who got their Australian PR visa on or after 1 July 2007 must have been lawfully residing in Australia for four years immediately before applying for Australian citizenship. This includes:

  • 12 months as an Australian permanent resident
  • absences from Australia of no more than 12 months
  • absences from Australia of no more than three months in the 12 months before applying.

The lawful residence includes time spent on temporary visas (i.e. Student, Working Holiday, Tourist) prior to the grant of permanent residency.


Australian Citizenship test

If you satisfy the general eligibility criteria, you will need to pass a citizenship test before applying for Australian citizenship. Those aged under 18 or over age 60, or people who suffer from a substantial impairment or loss of hearing, speech or sight are not required to sit a citizenship test.

The Australian citizenship test has been designed to help future Australian citizens gain an understanding of Australia’s:

  • values
  • traditions
  • history
  • national symbols.

The citizenship test is an important part of ensuring you have the capacity to fully participate in the Australian community as a citizen and maximise the opportunities available to you in Australia. It promotes social cohesion and successful integration into the community. The test will also assess the applicant’s English language abilities.

To sit the citizenship test you must:

  • be an Australian permanent resident
  • satisfy the department of your identity during the process of registering for the test
  • allow the department to take a photograph of you or provide one yourself.


Privileges of Australian citizens

Becoming an Australian citizen entitles you to the right to:

  • live in Australia
  • apply for an Australian passport and to leave and re-enter Australia without applying for a resident return visa
  • seek assistance from Australian diplomatic representatives while overseas
  • work in the Australian Public Service
  • serve in the Australian Defence Force
  • Registering children born overseas as Australian citizens by descent: register as Australian citizens by descent any of your children born overseas after you become an Australian citizen
  • stand for Parliament
  • vote to elect members of Parliament
  • Voting in Federal and State or territory elections and in a referendum


Responsibilities of Australian citizens

Australian citizens are required to:

  • obey Australian laws
  • defend Australia should the need arise
  • serve on a jury if needed
  • enrol on federal and state/territory electoral registers
  • vote in elections.

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