How To Become an Australian Citizen: A Complete Guide

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People want to know how to become Australian citizens by descent, marriage, and permanent residency.


Australia is a young, multi-cultural, and democratic country with an ever-developing economy. It's unparalleled natural beauty and quality of life attract people from nooks and corners worldwide.


Australian citizenship offers peace of mind and numerous benefits in living, studying, voting, and working.


To become an Australian citizen, you must know the eligibility criteria and different stages of the application process. This comprehensive guide discusses everything you need to know about becoming a citizen of Australia.



1. Why Should You Become An Australian Citizen?


Citizenship in Australia allows you to live and work independently while staying committed to the country's values. It entitles you to the following rights:


  • Obtain an Australian passport to leave and return to Australia

  • Obtain help from diplomatic representatives of Australia when abroad

  • Serve in the Defense Army

  • Work in the Government Service

  • Stand for Parliament

  • Vote to choose a member of the Parliament



2. What Are The Responsibilities Of An Australian Citizen?


When gaining Australian citizenship, you must:


  • Adhere to the laws and regulations of Australia

  • Defend Australia when deemed necessary

  • Serve on the position of a jury when called to do so

  • Enrol on state and territory voting registers

  • Vote in Parliamentary elections



3. Australian Permanent Residency Vs Australian Citizenship


An Australian permanent resident differs from an Australian citizen based on privileges and entitlements. Australian permanent residents are not a citizen of the country. They hold a permanent visa enabling them to live, study, and work without constraint in Australia.


Let's see in what ways an Australian citizen and an Australian permanent resident differ:


  • Travel: An Australian citizen has the full right of entry to Australia. A permanent resident must have a valid permanent visa with an official travel authority to travel internationally.


  • Vote and Run an Election: A citizen can vote and run an election in Australian government elections. However, permanent residents do not have the right to vote or run in an election in Australia.


  • Work in Administration services or Australian Defense Force: Australian citizens are allowed to work in government services and the defence force. However, permanent residents are not allowed to.


  • Study LoanWhere Australian permanent residents aren't eligible for government study loans, Australian citizens can apply for loans capped at low-interest rates.


  • Government Support (when Overseas): Australian citizens can obtain official assistance while living or working abroad. However, permanent residents don't receive this support.


  • Citizenship Eligibility For Offspring: Children born to Australian citizens are eligible for Australian citizenship. The same is the case for children born to permanent residents if they were born in Australia. However, when born overseas, they need to apply for permanent residency.



4. How To Apply For A Permanent Residency (PR) In Australia?


You must meet various requirements to apply for permanent residency:


  • You must have been legally residing in Australia for four years immediately before the date of application for Australian citizenship. 

  • You must have stayed for 12 months in Australia as a permanent resident.

  • You should not have stayed away from the country for more than one year and more than three months in the last 12 months before the application date.


Check out the Citizenship Wizard on the Department of Home Affairs website to know more about the residence requirement.



5. How To Become An Australian Citizen?


To become an Australian citizen, you must commit to the country and everything that supports and upholds it. The following are the Australian citizenship requirements:


  • You should be of 18 years and above

  • You must have lived in Australia for four years, including one year as a permanent resident

  • You should be an Australian permanent resident at the date of application

  • You should have passed a citizenship test (if below 60 years),

  • Should continue residing in Australia or maintain a continuing association with Australia

  • You should have a good social and moral conduct

  • You should possess adequate knowledge of rights and responsibilities as an Australian citizen.



6. When Can I Apply For Australian Citizenship?


You can apply for an Australian citizen in three different ways if you meet the criteria.



Option 1: Citizenship by Birth


Under this case, you must meet the following requirements:


  • You are born in Australia

  • At least one of your parents was an Australian permanent resident or Australian citizen at the time of your birth



Option 2: Australian Citizenship by Conferral


To be eligible for citizenship through this method, you must meet the following resident criteria:


  • You must have stayed in Australia for one year as a permanent resident.

  • You should be a legal resident in Australia for four years just before submitting the citizenship application. (This includes the time spent in Australia as a student, working holiday, tourist, or temporary visa)

  • You have not left Australia for more than one year in the past four years and not over 90 days in the one year immediately before lodging the application.



Scenario 1:


Do you want to know how to become an Australian citizen of New Zealand? You must meet the following criteria to obtain Australian citizenship:


  • Australian permanent residents between 18 and 59 years old

  • Children between 16 and 17 years of age

  • Children aged 15 years or below when applying with their parent or guardian

  • Eligible New Zealand citizen when you apply for Australian citizenship and when the department decides your citizenship application

  • Spouses or partners of an Australian citizen

  • Commonwealth Child Migration Scheme migrants

  • Refugees or humanitarian migrants

  • Likely to continue living in Australia or sustaining a close association with Australia while abroad



Australian Citizenship Cost:


  • AUD 490 for general people

  • AUD 300 for people 16 or 17 years of age at the time of application.

  • No fee for a child 15 years or below.



Scenario 2:


If you are 60 years or above, you can also apply for Australian citizenship by conferral mode. It is necessary to meet the following requirements:


  • Eligible New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident on the date of applying and when the board decides your application

  • Commonwealth Child Migration Scheme migrants

  • Spouses or partners of an Australian citizen

  • Humanitarian migrants

  • Refugees 

  • Continue staying in Australia or keep an association with Australia when overseas


When applying for citizenship under this category, you must pay AUD300. Those holding a concession card would need to pay only AUD35.



Scenario 3:


Are you thinking about how to get Australian citizenship by marriage? You can obtain Australian citizenship by conferral if your spouse is an Australian citizen.


You must submit the citizenship application with the supporting documents and a fee of AUD 490 to the Home Affairs Department.


You will receive Australian citizenship after successful security checks and document verification.



Dual Citizenship


Australia allows its citizens to have dual citizenship, where an Australian citizen can obtain citizenship of another country while maintaining their Australian citizenship.


However, it depends on the citizenship regulation of the other country to decide whether you can continue being their citizen after becoming an Australian citizen.



Option 3: Citizenship by Descent


Suppose you were born outside Australia and one of your parents is or was an Australian citizen when you were born. In that case, you are eligible for Australian Citizenship by Descent. An applicant can lodge a citizenship application online.


The responsible Australian Embassy or High Commission processes the applications.


You will need to pay a citizenship cost of AUD 315 for general people and AUD 130 for every consequent sibling who applies.



7. What Is A Citizenship Test?


When meeting the eligibility requirements, applicants must pass a citizenship test before applying for Australian citizenship.


This test evaluates the understanding of an applicant of the history, traditions, culture, national symbols, laws, geography, political system, and values of Australia.


Moreover, the test also examines the English language abilities and adequate knowledge of Australian citizenship duties and rights.


The fundamental objective of the test is to help social cohesion and successful addition to the community. It comprises 20 questions, and applicants must obtain at least 75% to pass the test.


You may be exempt from taking the test if:


  • Below 18 years or above 60 years

  • Suffer from a significant loss of sensory power

  • Applied before October 01, 2007

  • Have a mental or physical disability.

  • Have been born to a former Australian citizen


Applicants with low English literacy receive help to take the test.



8. What Is A Citizenship Ceremony?


Once the citizenship application is approved, applicants must participate in a Citizenship Ceremony to make an Australian Citizenship Pledge. This pledge shows the following:


  • Loyalty to Australia

  • Share the democratic beliefs of the country

  • Respect its liberties and rights 

  • Preserve its laws


After they take the pledge, applicants receive the "Citizenship Certificate". It is a necessary document when applying for an Australian passport.



9. Steps To Become an Australian Citizen


Now that you know the eligibility criteria, you must learn about the required documents, application forms, and the general process for becoming an Australian citizen.



Step 1: Check Your Eligibility


The first step to becoming an Australian Citizenship is ensuring you meet the general eligibility requirements.



Step 2: Get All The Necessary Supporting Documents


You would require the following documents to support your application:


  • Identity Proof: With your name, photograph, and signature that confirms your identity, such as a driver's license, a national identity card, or passport.


  • Australian Residence Proof: Provide a document confirming that you have been staying lawfully and continuously in Australia for the last four years. The most common acceptable documents include a rental contract, a utility bill, a bank statement, or an insurance policy that contains your address.


  • Date of birth Proof: A copy of your birth certificate.


  • Passport-style photograph (not older than six months)

  • Evidence of your parent's or spouse's Australian Citizenship Status

  • Hand-written original signature



Step 3: Get Copies Of The Supporting Documents


You must upload or attach copies of all official documents to process the application. 


Therefore, you must take out copies of the documents and send them along with the form. However, you are required to provide originals when attending citizenship interviews/appointments.



Step 4: Translate Your Official Documents (If Needed)


The documents you send to the DHA have to be in English. It requires you to translate your non-English documents into the English language using an accredited translator. 


NAATI is a standard and professional translator widely used for translation and interpretation worldwide.



Step 5: Complete Your Application Form


Depending on your specific case, you must fill out the Australian citizenship application form and submit it online. List all the official documents that you are providing.


Find someone who can attest legitimacy of your documents and your identity. Nominate a representative (when necessary) and choose your preference to pledge during the Australian Ceremony.



Step 6: Submit Application


Submit your completed form with documents to DHA online or by post with the application processing charges.


Click here to find the location to post your application.



Step 7: Attend Your Citizenship Appointment and Citizenship Test


Upon receiving your application, the DHA will call you for a citizenship appointment to confirm your identity and the authenticity of your submitted documents. 


Next, you will have to sit for the Australian Citizenship test.



Step 8: Attend The Citizenship Ceremony


The last step to becoming an Australian Citizen is to attend a Citizenship Ceremony and make your Australian Citizenship Pledge. 


This citizenship ceremony is within six months of your application's approval. The average time taken to process the application is around three months.



10. How To Become An Australian Citizen From The UK?


  • To become an Australian citizen, you must fulfil the residence requirement mentioned per the Department of Home Affairs guidelines. 

  • Submit a completed application form along with the applicable fee to the department. 

  • The concerned team will conduct security assessments and review your migration history. 

  • On satisfactory assessment, applicants between 18 to 59 years of age must undertake a Citizenship test, and those above 60 years will attend a Citizenship appointment.

  • On completing the above step, you will participate in an Australian citizenship ceremony that includes the Australian Citizenship Pledge.



11. How To Resume An Australian Citizenship?


If you were an Australian citizen before, you could apply to regain your citizenship again. For this, you must fulfil the following conditions and take the necessary steps:


  • Provide identified proof if 16 years or older

  • Evidence of good character

  • Present evidence that shows the termination of your Australian citizen


The eligibility to resume Australian citizenship depends on your citizenship termination reason. Those who aren't eligible to get the ceased Australian citizenship back can apply for Australian citizenship via conferral mode. The application fee to resume your citizenship is AUD210.



Step 1: Arrange The Necessary Documents


If you meet the eligibility criteria, you need certain documents to apply to regain Australian citizenship.


Here is the complete Australian citizenship document checklist:


  • Identity documents that show your birth name, birth date, and gender

  • The birth certificate showing your mother's and father's name

  • Family registration document 

  • Official document for name change (if required): marriage certificate, divorce certificate 

  • Residential address proof such as electricity bill, water bill, gas bill, or rental contract

  • Australian driver's license

  • National identity card

  • Proof of arrival in Australia, such as an existing or previous passport or travel document with a visa

  • Passport-sized photograph signature

  • Responsible parent documents

  • Good character documents such as Australian national police check and penal clearance certificates

  • Citizenship documents that show termination of your citizenship.



Step 2: Apply To resume Australian citizenship


You can complete the Form 132 application and post it with the certified copies of documents to the address mentioned on the form. Applicants can apply from within or outside Australia.



Step 3: Make The Payment


Pay the application processing fee at the time of application.



Step 4: Wait For The Official Communication


Once you have completed the above formalities, you must wait for the concerned authorities to reach out. They will send you an email stating the outcome of your application.


You will receive proof of Australian citizenship if your application is approved. The turnaround time to receive it is ten business days from the approval date. However, if you have applied outside the country, it may take more time.


On the other hand, if the department rejects your application, you will receive a letter stating the reason for the refusal. An applicant can reach out to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to review the decision.



12. Conclusion


Gaining Australian citizenship is a dream for countless people worldwide.


However, one must remember that with privileges comes the commitment and responsibilities to the people and values of the country.


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