THE COMPLETE GUIDE ON HOW TO APPLY FOR AUSTRALIAN CITIZENSHIP

Australia is a nation of immigrants. Every year, thousands of migrants make their way to the Land Down Under to start a new life and live the Australian dream. In fact, this continent of a country is one of the most diverse nations on Earth, with a foreign-born population exceeding 20%. But many migrants do not have proper knowledge of how to apply to the Australian government for Australian citizenship . That’s what we’re here to change!

Metropolises like Sydney and Melbourne are incredibly cosmopolitan, with people of all ethnicities living there. Australia has only one official language recognized by the Australian government, English, which serves as the lingua franca between all these groups. 

People who live in Australia can be grouped into temporary residents, permanent residents, refugees (non-citizens who were victims of a humanitarian crisis), citizens by birth (citizen by being born in Australia), citizens by descent (citizen where parents were Australian citizens), and citizens by conferral (citizen by passing the naturalization test and associated processes). This article will concentrate on the latter.

However, there is a difference between a permanent resident and an Australian Citizenship certificate holder! The latter enjoys various duties and privileges which the former doesn’t. This article will explain all you need to know on how to apply for Australian citizenship, the documents you need, the rights and duties associated with Australian citizenship, and the myriad other questions related to this topic. 

WHAT ARE THE RIGHTS AND DUTIES ASSOCIATED WITH AUSTRALIAN CITIZENSHIP?

Every nation expects its citizens to fulfill specific duties and uphold the values of the country, and Australia is no exception. Upon completing the naturalization process and becoming an Australian citizen, there are specific responsibilities attached, namely - 
  • Obligation To obey all the laws of the country decided by the Australian government
  • To enroll in federal and state/territorial elections
  • Pay all applicable taxes in a timely and honest fashion
  • Duty  To vote in elections (Voting is compulsory in Australia, on pain of fines!)
  • To defend the country if the need arises
  • Duty  To serve on a jury if called upon
However, there are also umpteen benefits to becoming an Australian citizen. A developed country like Australia grants several rights to its citizens, which are listed below - 
  • The right to vote in Australian elections and choose Members of Parliament
  • Right to stand for public office and seek election in the Australian government
  • The Right to leave and enter Australia without restrictions and immunity from deportation
  • Eligible to nominate your children for Australian Citizenship (citizenship through descent)
  • Traveling with an Australian passport, which entails visa-free travel to 169 nations
  • Are Eligibility for aid on educational debt from the Australian government
  • Eligibility for Australian administrative and defense jobs in a government agency
  • Right to adopt children in Australia
  • Outside Australia, consular support from Australian embassies in case of distress
  • Right to Permanent Residence in New Zealand!
  • The opportunity to participate in and represent Australia in international sporting and cultural events!
Therefore, when people ask how immigration has contributed to economic diversity in Australia? - there is no single answers, but getting an Australian citizenship certificate is definitely one of them!

WHAT IS THE AUSTRALIAN CITIZENSHIP CERTIFICATE?

The Australian Citizenship Certificate is a document given to naturalized citizens of Australia to mark the final stage of Australian naturalization and citizenship process for immigrants residing in Australia, with the citizenship ceremony happening within six months of its approval. It serves as the official proof that the holder is an Australian citizen, and is given by the government of Australia. 

It has two unique numerical codes, the stock number, and the evidence number, that are verified by the Australian Department of Home Affairs. These numbers are unique to every Australian Citizenship Certificate and serve as proof of authenticity.

WHAT ARE THE GENERAL CRITERIA TO APPLY FOR AUSTRALIAN CITIZENSHIP?

To apply to become an Australian citizen means making a commitment to Australia and all that it stands for. The requirements in Australia are comparatively extremely lenient, considering Australia’s cultural and linguistic diversity. The conditions and steps for acquiring Australian Citizenship are listed below:

  • They Must be at least 18 years old. 
  • Must be of good character (no criminal record)
  • Has basic knowledge of English, Australia and what Australian citizenship entails
  • They Must have passed the citizenship test
  • Must have satisfied the permanent residence requirements
  • They should either reside in the country or have a strong association with Australia and be likely to continue to do so in the future.
  • There is no other reason for the Minister of Immigration to reject your application.

WHAT ARE THE PERMANENT RESIDENCE REQUIREMENTS FOR AUSTRALIAN CITIZENSHIP?

The permanent residence requirements for the Australian citizenship application (except citizens of New Zealand) are-

  • Have been in Australia for at least 12 months as am Australian permanent resident
  • Have not been absent from Australia for more than 12 months in the previous four years
  • They Have not been absent from Australia for more than three months in the past 12 months
  • They Have not been in Australia unlawfully in the four years preceding application
  • Intend to reside in Australia in the future as well

There are special exemptions for citizens of New Zealand. New Zealand and Australia share a special relation. For many years, Australia has been in an arrangement with New Zealand called the Australia-New Zealand Trans-Tasman Travel Agreement. Thus those who are citizens of New Zealand should check out the New Zealand page on the website to learn the special requirements for New Zealand. New Zealand and Australia also have a strong cricket rivalry!

HOW TO APPLY FOR THE AUSTRALIAN CITIZENSHIP TEST?

All people who apply for Australian citizenship must sit for and pass the citizenship exam. Those covered by extraordinary circumstances (under 18, over 60, lack of hearing, speech or sight, or any other impairment) are exempted from this, though. 

The test will examine the examinee’s English skills, as well as help future Australian citizens get an understanding of Australia’s values, traditions, history, and national symbols. It is an integralpart of ensuring the capacity to fully participate in the Australian community as a citizen. It also promotes social cohesion and cultural integration into the Commonwealth of Australia.

Dual Citizenship is also a popular option in Australia. To know more about it, click here

WHY CAN AUSTRALIAN CITIZENSHIP BE REFUSED?

The Australian Ministry of Immigration government agency reserves the right to refuse Australian citizenship to anyone for the following reasons.

  • The person’s identity cannot be reliably established
  • They represent a risk to Australian national security
  • Unable to satisfy the general or special permanent residence requirements
  • They have pending criminal cases against them
  • Found to not be of good character
  • They have renounced Australian citizenship within the last 12 months (unless at risk of becoming stateless)

However, even if your citizenship is rejected on one of the above grounds, you can still file an appeal at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal government agency within the timeframe specified on your refusal letter.

HOW TO APPLY FOR AUSTRALIAN CITIZENSHIP ONLINE?

HOW TO APPLY FOR AUSTRALIAN CITIZENSHIP

You can apply for Australian citizenship online by:

  1. Going to the Australian Ministry of Home Affairs immigration website
  2. Logging into an ImmiAccount
  3. Select ‘New Application’
  4. Then Select the relevant application from the list
  5. Provide the information asked, and upload any necessary files
  6. Read and agree to the Terms and Conditions.

Please be sure to go through the website thoroughly before submitting your application!

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO APPLY FOR AUSTRALIAN CITIZENSHIP?

Depending on the Department of Home Affairs form you use to file your citizenship application, the cost of the government fees ranges from $180 to $285. Here is a breakdown:

  • Form 1300t - For the general eligibility form for people between 18-59 years, the charge is $285
  • Form 1290 - For the Other Situations Form used by people over 60, or with a physical or mental disability, the government fee is $180

Form 118 - This is the citizenship by descent form for people who have at least one parent/both parents who was an Australian citizen. The fee is $230.

DOES AUSTRALIA ALLOW DUAL CITIZENSHIP?

Yes, Australia allows citizens to hold dual citizenship of other countries if the laws of those countries allow. In fact, you can even hold the citizenship of multiple other countries, especially New Zealand!

People can become dual citizens automatically if they hold the citizenship of another compatible country at the time of acquiring Australian citizenship. Conversely, you can also become a dual citizen, if, as an Australian citizen, you are granted citizenship of another country. 

As an example, a citizen of Australia can automatically gain dual citizenship in another country through marriage, or a permanent resident in Australia can acquire dual citizenship upon becoming an Australian citizen. 

There is, however, an exception in that public representatives (elected members of the Australian Parliament) cannot hold Australian citizenship. In fact, in 2017, there was a citizenship crisis in the Australian Parliament, when several Members of Parliament discovered they had unknowingly been dual citizens from their parents.  

These rules regarding dual citizenship are quite new, as, before 4 April 2002, any Australian citizen who became the citizen of another country automatically lost their Australian citizenship.

WHAT DOCUMENTS DO I NEED TO APPLY FOR AUSTRALIAN CITIZENSHIP?

The documents you need to apply for the Australian citizenship process are divided into three categories. Category I (proof of identity), Category II (evidence of good character), and Category III (supporting documents). They include: 

  • Photograph and signature
  • Current residential address
  • Proof of date of birth, birth name, and change of name
  • Passport
  • Police character report
  • Documents for your children
  • Proof of any handicaps or special requirements

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET CITIZENSHIP IN AUSTRALIA?

After filing your citizenship application, the Australian Department of Home Affairs aims to process your request within 10 to 14 months from the time you apply. After receiving your Australian citizenship certificate, the citizenship swearing-in ceremony will happen in 6 months.

WHAT IS THE AUSTRALIAN OATH OF ALLEGIANCE?

All new citizens of Australia are required to take a solemn oath of loyalty to Australia and commitment to its security, progress, and principles of democracy and the rule of law. The wording of the Oath of Allegiance has changed. The last change happened in 1986. The wording was - 

I swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Australia, Her heirs, and successors according to law and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Australia and fulfill my duties as an Australian citizen.

In 1994 the Oath was replaced with a Pledge of Commitment to Australia:

From this time forward, under God,

I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people,

whose democratic beliefs I share,

whose rights and liberties I respect, and

whose laws I will uphold and obey.

All new citizens have the choice of making the pledge with (Pledge 1) or without (Pledge 2) the words ‘under God’, according to their religious beliefs.

WHAT IS THE AUSTRALIAN CITIZENSHIP CEREMONY?

The last step in the process of acquiring Australian Citizenship is to attend the Australian citizenship ceremony! This is, in many ways, the most critical step of all! Citizenship in Australia is not granted after meeting all the above requirements or passing the citizenship test. Instead, Australian citizenship is actually granted at the Australian Citizenship Ceremony. 

This ceremony generally takes place within three months after approval of your application by the Department of Home Affairs. However, the waiting time will vary between the various local councils.

The invitation to the ceremony, along with the relevant details, will be sent to you by the local council. It is at the citizenship ceremony that you will finally take the Oath of allegiance as the ultimate stage of the procedure of becoming a citizen of Australia. This is compulsory; every qualified adult applicant mandatorily must attend this. There are sporadic exceptions made for this, though. 

I hope you found this article on how to apply for Australian citizenship informative and helpful. Australia is a nation descended from the ships, and they continue to uphold their commitment to being a place of refuge for the world’s people, and a significant destination for migrants worldwide. Stay tuned for more great blogs about all aspects of Australia regularly! Thank you for reading!

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