Becoming an Australian citizen

Australian citizenship is an important step in your migration journey.

Applying for Australian citizenship allows you to make an ongoing commitment to Australia and its shared values. Extending Australian Citizenship to you and your family allows the Australian community to make an on-going permanent commitment to you. It is a privilege offering many rewards including in most cases the right to become a dual citizen.

There are three main ways you can become an Australian citizen.

1. Citizenship by conferral

If you are a permanent resident you can apply for Australian citizenship after having lived in Australia for four years in total while holding any kind of visa, and after having lived in Australia for 12 months as a permanent resident.

There is some flexibility in these periods. You can be cumulatively outside Australia for up to 12 months in the 4-year period and can be outside Australia for up to 90 days in the 12-month period before applying.

You must be in Australia when the application is made and approved.

Attending a Citizenship Conferral Ceremony

When the application is approved you need to arrange to attend a Citizenship Conferral Ceremony. You will have 12 months from the approval of the application to attend a Ceremony. On attending the Ceremony you become an Australian citizen.

In summary, to apply for citizenship by conferral you must:

1. Be a permanent resident at the time of application, and also, at time of decision;
2. Satisfy the residence requirement;
3. Pass a citizenship test (unless over the age of 60);
4. Be likely to reside, or to continue to reside, in Australia or to maintain a close and continuing association with Australia;
5. Be of good character;
6. Attend a Citizenship Conferral Ceremony.

Children under 16 years old can be included in the parents’ application and children aged between 16 and 18 must apply separately.

Citizenship test

The Australian citizenship test is designed to help future Australian citizens gain an understanding of Australia’s values, traditions, history, national symbols.

Cost

The cost of applying for citizenship costs AUD$285. There is no cost for a child 15 years or younger applying with a parent. Other exemptions and concessions apply.

2. Citizenship by birth

If you are born in Australia and one of your parents is or was an Australian citizen or permanent resident at the time you were born, you will be an Australian citizen by birth.

If you are born in Australia but your parents hold a temporary or provisional visa, you will have the same visa as your parents. You do not automatically become an Australian permanent resident or Australian citizen just because you are born in Australia.

The only exemption is where you are born in Australia while your parents held a temporary or provisional visa and then you have lived in Australia for ten years. In this case you can apply for a declaration of Australian citizenship. You do not need to be a permanent resident to apply for citizenship on this basis. This is pathway is becoming increasingly possible given the number of people living in Australia for a long time on a series of temporary visas.

Children born to permanent residents living outside Australia have no automatic visa and need to apply for a Child visa. You should think carefully about this if you are a permanent resident and are planning on traveling back to your country to give birth.

3. Citizenship by descent

Children born to Australian citizens living overseas can register for Australian citizenship by descent. If this applies to you, you are not automatically granted Australian citizenship at birth and have to apply and have your registration confirmed by the Australian Government.

To apply for citizenship by descent is a formal process that includes the need to confirm parentage and may involve DNA testing. Your citizenship is confirmed when your name is entered on the register.

To discover whether you are eligible for Australian citizenship, we invite you to book a consultation with one of our expert migration lawyers.

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