Australian citizenship eligibility
Table of Contents
This chapter is about:
- Australian citizenship eligibility
- how to get Australian citizenship
- how to become an Australian citizen
Before applying for Australian citizenship, you must check your Australian citizenship eligibility. In other words, you must ensure whether you can get Australian citizenship at all. There are a few different ways on how to become an Australian citizen. The best would be to be born as an Australian citizen, but you didn’t come here to read about that. If you don’t have the time to go through everything by yourself give us a call and we’ll check everything for you, otherwise – continue reading. I’ll write here about how to get Australian citizenship through permanent residency, it’s called “Australian citizenship by conferral”.
Australian citizenship is regulated by the Australian Citizenship Act (available here), but in general, to apply for Australian citizenship you will need to:
- live in Australia as a permanent resident. It doesn’t matter what kind of permanent visa you hold – whether it is a partner visa, skilled visa, ENS, or the other permanent residency visa.
- satisfy the residency requirement to be eligible for Australian citizenship. This one is tricky – I will write some more info below.
- be willing to live in Australia for the future
- be of good character if you are at least 18 years old. It might become complicated if you’ve been sentenced in the past, however very often could be challenged whether your sentence will disqualify you from applying for Australian citizenship.
There are some “quite simple” rules for Australian citizenship eligibility. It is all about the timing. You’ll have to calculate how long have you been living in Australia as a permanent resident over the last couple of years. It’s all about maths. If you have problems with counting – ask somebody to check your calculations (give us a call or contact us). Here we go:
To ensure your residence requirements have been met you:
- must have been living lawfully in Australia on a valid visa for four years immediately before the date of application. Within these 4 years, the last 12 months must be spent in Australia as a permanent resident.
- must not have been abroad for more than one year cumulatively, during the last 4 year period. Additionally, you could not have been living outside Australia for more than 90 calendar days in the year immediately before applying.
Simple – isn’t it? Not really? I know, the Department of Home Affairs made it a bit confusing. OK – one step at the time, answer yourself the questions below
- Do you hold a permanent visa?
- Have you been living in Australia lawfully for the last 4 years?
- Have you been living in Australia as a permanent resident over the last 12 months?
- Have you been living in Australia at least 3 years cumulatively over the last 4 years? (subtract all the time you have spent abroad)
- Have you been living in Australia at least 9 months over the last 12 months?
If you have answered “YES” to all the above questions, you’re halfway there as residence requirements look to be met.
Story: Mary came to Australia on 01 January 2012 as a temporary resident. She was a holder of a student visa. After graduating in February 2014 she applied and has been granted with skilled graduate visa. After a few months, she applied for a skilled independent visa and has been granted her 189 visa on 19 August 2014. Mary is going to apply for citizenship 30 April 2016. She lived in Australia all the time.
Verdict: Mary met the residency requirements and might be eligible for Australian citizenship.
Story: Vijay came to Australia as a permanent resident on 12 November 2013. He has applied offshore and been granted with permanent skilled visa. Vijay wants to apply for Australian citizenship
Verdict: Vijay does not meet the residency requirement. Although he’s living in Australia as a permanent resident for more than 12 months, he must be living lawfully in Australia for at least 4 years.
Story: Xiu came to Australia a tourist on 07 June 2011. After 2 months he decided he wants to continue his education in Australia, he applied and has been granted with a student visa. For personal reasons he had to take a break from his school between 01 January 2013 and 01 October 2013 – he spent this time in China with his family. He came back to Australia on 01 October 2013. Once he finished his school he has been employed in one of regional Australia cities. His employer-sponsored Xiu for RSMS visa, which has been granted on 01 February 2014. A year later 01 March 2015 Xiu flew back to China to spend some time with his family. He came back on 01 July 2015. Xiu wants to apply for citizenship on 18 April 2016.
Verdict: Xiu does not meet the residency requirement. Although he first arrived in Australia more than 4 years ago, he did not spend cumulatively 3 years over the last 4 years period of time before the intended date of the citizenship application. In addition, he’s been overseas for more than 3 months over last 12 months.
What does it mean lawfully? A lawful residence is about living in Australia on a valid Australian temporary or permanent visa.
If any of the following has applied to you in the past 4 years it could impact your Australian citizenship eligibility, and we will have to discuss your options. Give us a call if you:
- have obtained an e-visa which replaced an expired Resident Return Visa (RRV)
- have had a bridging visa of any type
- have lodged an onshore application for a permanent visa then traveled abroad on your temporary visa
- are a New Zealander on a Special Category Visa (SCV)
If any of your parents was an Australian Citizen on the time you have been born, you may be eligible for Australian citizenship by descent. Contact us to check if you could lodge an Australian citizenship application on that basis.
Applying for Australian citizenship
This chapter is about:
- how to apply for Australian citizenship.
- Australian citizenship application form
You need to apply for citizenship, it will not be granted by default. If you like paperwork – relevant paper form must be filled and send to the nearest Department of Home Affairs if you are in Australia. If you are overseas paper application must be sent to the department’s Overseas Citizenship Unit at the Canberra office in Australia. An application must be accompanied by a payment of course.
If you are aged between 18 years and 59 years you should youse Form 1300t Australian citizenship – General eligibility
- are younger than 17 years old, or
- over 59 years, or
- suffer from a permanent loss or substantial impairment of hearing, speech or sight, or
- have an enduring physical or mental incapacity that means you are not capable of understanding the nature of the application,
you should use Form 1290 Australian citizenship – Other situations. Interesting – if you don’t understand nature of the application and can’t fill the 1300t form you may use another form. Don’t be worried – we are here to help – we can do all the paperwork for you.
Sending a paper application is probably the best for those who do not have internet access or love to have in hand a solid piece of document with all the relevant signatures and stamps. The easier way to apply for citizenship is to lodge the application online. Read the next chapter for details
Australian citizenship application
This chapter is about: application for Australian citizenship.
Once you have confirmed you might be eligible for Australian citizenship it is the time to go to the department’s website and lodge the application online. Right? Nope, sorry.
Before lodging the Australian citizenship application check if you have all the required documents which must be attached to the application. If you are missing some crucial documents you might not be eligible to apply online and will have to lodge the paper application.
What kind of documents must be attached to the application? Here they are:
- You must provide proof of identity documents:
- Three (3) original documents that collectively show your photograph, signature, current residential address, birth name, date of birth and gender. (some or all of these might be required dependant on your particular situation: An Australian driver’s licence, A passport, UNHCR document, a national identity card, other documents containing a signature and photograph such as: an aircrew identity document, seafarer identity document, military identity document or student card, a utilities notice such as electricity, gas or water bill, rental contracts or rates notice, a full birth certificate, or your country’s equivalent, evidence of links between present and previous names, for example a marriage or divorce certificate (if applicable), change of name documents from an Australian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (if applicable), documents showing other names that you or your children have been known by)
- Proof of change of name, if applicable
- Identity declaration (Form 1195) completed by a person with the appropriate authority.
- Evidence of arrival in Australia (a passport or other travel documents)
- Good character documents. You will have to provide penal clearance certificates from all countries if, since the grant of your permanent Australian visa: you have lived or traveled overseas since the age of 18 years or over, and the total time spent abroad added up to 12 months or more, and the time you’ve been in any one country was more than 90 days, or department asks you to do so. If you are applying outside Australia, then Australia needs to be considered an overseas country.
- Other supporting documents, if applicable, such as :
- Evidence for exemptions, discretions, and concessions
- Evidence of special residence requirement
- Evidence of residence – for New Zealand and British migrants only
- Documents related to children if included in the application
If you have collected all the necessary documents now is the time to determine if you can lodge the application online or need to send a paper form.
In most situations, you are OK to proceed with the online application unless you:
- do apply for a fee concession or exemption
- are part of the Australian Defence Force
- are a stateless person
- do not hold a passport
- did not travel in and out of Australia since July 1990.
In the above situation, a paper application is only one allowed.
Before lodging the actual online application, you will have to create your very own IMMI account. Once you’ll get your account login, choose the Australian Citizenship application and follow the prompts. In the end, you’ll be requested to attach relevant documents and pay the fee. You will have to show original documents during your visit to the department for a Citizenship test.
Australian citizenship fees
Unless you are exempt you must pay a fee for a citizenship application. Unless you are eligible for confession it’s gonna cost you $285 (as of February 2016 – may change – best to check department’s website). The concession fee is $40 and does apply in general to pensioners. Children under 16 yeard old (if included in parent’s application) stateless people and people who served in the Australian Army don’t pay a dime.
Australian citizenship test
This chapter is about:
- Australian citizenship practice test,
- Australian citizen test,
- citizenship test practice,
- Australian citizenship test practice questions,
- Australian citizenship test questions and answers
Before you will be granted Australian Citizenship it is required for you to sit the Australian citizenship practice test and pass it. They will put you on the front of a computer and run the program. There are 20 questions you will have to answer. Each question will have a couple of possible answers – you will have to choose the right one and go to the next question. The test is timed – you will have 45 minutes to complete the test. Australian citizenship test pass mark is 15 correct answers out of 20 in total. If you will fail at the first time, you can do it again and again within 45 minutes, but do not expect to get the same questions each time. If you will still fail, then you will have to reschedule the test. Fee for the Australian citizenship test is included in an application fee, so you don’t have to pay anything even if you’ll have to sit the test multiple times.
There is a brochure released by the Department of Home Affairs called “Australian Citizenship: Our Common Bond” (available here). In reality, that publication has all the information required to help you pass the citizenship test. It contains 5 parts, where only the first 3 parts are testable: (Part 1 – Australia and its people, Part 2 – Australia’s democratic beliefs, rights and liberties and Part 3 – Government and the law in Australia). The last 2 parts are for your information only are non-testable (Part 4 – Australia today, Part 5 – Our Australian story) it also contains example questions. There really is no point to buy any “Australian citizenship test questions and answers” from the internet.
If you are having troubles with English or prefer to read in your own language, brochure has been translated and is also available in Albanian, Amharic, Arabic, Bosnian, Burmese/Myanmarese, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Croatian, Dari, Dinka, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Karen, Khmer, Kirundi, Korean, Macedonian, Nepali, Persian/Farsi, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian, Sinhalese, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Tamil, Thai, Tigrinya, Turkish, Vietnamese.
All the questions in the Australian citizenship test are based on these topics:
- Australia and its people
- Australia’s democratic beliefs, rights, and liberties
- government and the law in Australia.
To make things even easier Department of Home Affairs prepared videos, so instead of reading their brochure you can just watch videos few times and if you watched carefully you should be in a position to pass the test.
There is also a practice test available on department’s website. It will be exactly like that when you’ll be sitting your very own test.
Here are “Australian Citizenship – Our Common Bond” videos, enjoy!
Australian citizenship ceremony
This chapter is about becoming an Australian citizen.
Once you’ll get through all the steps of Australian citizenship application including that lovely test, which probably 70% of native Australians would fail as some people say, and your citizenship application is approved, you will be invited to attend your citizenship ceremony. Once you receive a letter that your application is approved, you will need to attend a citizenship ceremony and make the Australian Citizenship Pledge. This is the last step of becoming an Australian citizen. Ceremonies are usually held within six months from the time of application approval, but waiting times can vary between local councils. Most citizenship ceremonies are organized and hosted by local councils not the Department of Home Affairs. There are some popular dates for citizenship ceremonies such as Australia Day, Australian Citizenship Day, Constitution Day, Australia’s Local Hero Award, but ceremonies could be held on any other day as well.
Citizenship ceremonies fulfill requirements under Australian citizenship law and also provide an important opportunity to welcome new citizens as full members of the Australian community.
Australian citizenship certificate
During the Australian citizenship ceremony, you will also be given an Australian citizenship certificate. This is an official document that confirms that you are an Australian Citizen and it could be used as proof of citizenship to confirm that you are an Australian. You will need it when applying for your Australian passport. Australian citizenship certificate number could be found in the bottom left corner of the document.
If you need to get a copy of the Australian citizenship certificate you will have to fill form 119 and provide copies of all the relevant supporting documents. All the required documents are listed on a form. It’s quite a straightforward process, but time-consuming, so better keep your Australian citizenship certificate in some safe place. You’ll have also to pay a fee.
I hope this article was helpful. Feel free to comment, or post your questions below.
And don’t forget to share on social media.