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Becoming an Australian citizen is often the end goal for many people migrating to Australia. It indicates your desire to call Australia home and comes with many benefits. For example, these include the ability to:

  • vote and seek election;
  • work in the federal government and defence jobs;
  • receive financial assistance for higher education;
  • get Australian consular help while overseas; 
  • freely travel in and out of the country – Australian citizens can remain outside of Australia for an unlimited time and keep their right to return without having to apply for a visa;
  • hold an Australian passport – not only is an Australian passport one of the world’s top 10 most powerful in terms of travelling to other countries, but it also allows you to access priority processing at Australian airports.

Whatever your motivator, becoming an Australian citizen can be an exciting thing. However, the process is often long and draining. This article will discuss the requirements of becoming an Australian citizen. 

Becoming an Australian Citizen

There are three main ways to become an Australian citizen.

By birth

If you are born in Australia, and one or both of your parents are Australian citizens or permanent residents of Australia.

By descent

If you are the child of an Australian citizen but are born overseas, you will generally receive Australian citizenship.

By grant

If you are a non-citizen of Australia, you can apply to become an Australian citizen.

Australian Citizenship Requirements

The most important requirements of obtaining Australian citizenship are that you must:

  • be aged over 16;
  • be the holder of a valid permanent resident permit;
  • obtain a police check;
  • meet the residency requirements;
  • pass the Australian citizenship test and demonstrate sufficient English language skills;
  • demonstrate integration into the Australian community and an intention to continue living in Australia or to maintain a close relationship with Australia;
  • currently live in Australia.

Children under the age of 16 do not need to meet the residency requirements and may be included in the parents’ application, provided that the child is a permanent resident. 

Character Requirements

An Australian citizenship applicant over the age of 18 must be of good character. This generally refers to the ‘enduring moral qualities of a person’. If a person is found to be of good character, the Department of Home Affairs has considered that they are likely to uphold and obey the laws of Australia and other commitments made during the citizenship pledge. For example, in determining whether you are a person of good character, the Department will likely consider:

  • any criminal convictions;
  • obligations you may have to a court in Australia or overseas;
  • your association with people of concern;
  • incidents of reported domestic violence; and
  • whether you have been honest in your dealings with the Australian community, including providing false or misleading information concerning a visa or citizenship application. 

Whether in Australia or overseas, criminal convictions may prevent you from applying for Australian citizenship by conferral. 

Residency Requirements

To become an Australian citizen, you must have continuously and legally lived in Australia for at least the last four years. At least 12 months of those four years must have been as a permanent resident. You must not have been absent from Australia for more than 12 months during those four years. Additionally, you must not have been absent from Australia for more than 90 days in the last year. 

Citizenship Test

To be eligible for Australian citizenship, you must demonstrate that you understand what it means to be an Australian citizen. Therefore, you must take a citizenship test. During the test, you must demonstrate that you have a:

  • basic knowledge of the English language;
  • understanding of what it means to become an Australian citizen;
  • adequate knowledge of Australia and the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship; and
  • understanding and commitment to Australian values based on freedom, respect and equality.

You must score at least 75% on the test and answer all five questions on Australian values correctly to meet the knowledge requirements of gaining citizenship. However, if you pass the citizenship test, you will also meet the English language requirement.

Close and Continuing Link to Australia

As part of the application process, you must also demonstrate that you intend to make a long term commitment to Australia and maintain a close and continuing link to the country while overseas. The Department of Home Affairs may consider the following when determining whether you have a close and continuing link to Australia:

  • a child who is an Australian citizen;
  • a partner who is an Australian citizen and the length of your relationship;
  • extended family in Australia;
  • a bank account in Australia;
  • a job in Australia;
  • paid income tax in Australia; and
  • property in Australia.

Citizenship Ceremony

If you meet the requirements of Australian citizenship and your application is approved, you will be invited to attend a Citizenship Ceremony within 12 months. You are not an Australian citizen until you have attended your ceremony. Local authorities organise these ceremonies, and they are generally within six months of the approval of your application. During the citizenship ceremony, you must make the Australian Citizenship Pledge. The Pledge is a public commitment to Australia, and shows that you accept the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship.

Key Takeaways

Becoming an Australian citizen is a lengthy but rewarding process. Therefore, there are many requirements you must meet to be eligible for citizenship. For example, these include being of good character, meeting residency requirements, passing a citizenship test, and having a close and continuing link to Australia. LegalVision’s expert immigration lawyers can help you with your journey to Australian citizenship. Contact us today on 1300 544 755 or complete the contact form on this page. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of Australian citizenship?

Among other things, Australian citizenship allows you access to an Australian passport, the ability to vote and run for candidacy, and free travel in and out of the country.

What scores do I need to achieve under the Australian citizenship test?

You must score at least 75% on the test and answer all five questions on Australian values correctly to pass the Australian citizenship test.

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