With all these amazing attributes of Australia, one might therefore ask, ‘How do I become an Australian citizen?’
If you are thinking of becoming an Australian citizen, you will be pleased to know that Australia offers a number of pathways for you to acquire Australian citizenship. Even more pleasing to know will be the exclusive benefits solely attached to being an Australian citizen.
If you are seriously contemplating Australian citizenship, read on to find out the 6 ways that you can become an Australian citizen, what the eligibility requirements are and why you should start the process now to protect you from having your visa cancelled or being deported.
What are the ways I become an Australian citizen?
One of the most common ways to become an Australian citizen is under automatic acquisition of Australian citizenship, which is by either:
- Being born in Australia and by having a parent who is an Australian citizen; or
- Being born in Australia and having a parent who is a permanent resident at the time of your birth.
- You may also acquire Australian citizenship by application in these four (4) situations:
- Citizenship by descent would generally apply for you if you were born outside Australia and one or both of your parents were Australian citizens when you were born;
- Citizenship for persons adopted in accordance with the Hague Convention on intercountry Adoption or a bilateral arrangement;
- Citizenship by conferral generally requires that you meet certain eligibility criteria and that you pass a citizenship test; and
- Resuming citizenship allows you to apply for your citizenship to resume under certain conditions where you previously ceased to be an Australian citizen.
Outlined below are the eligibility requirements for Australian citizenship.
What are the eligibility requirements?
To acquire Australian citizenship, you must satisfy the following eligibility requirements:
- You are an Australian permanent resident;
- You are over 16 years of age;
- Have lawfully lived in Australia for a period of four years, including one year as a permanent resident;
- You must be of good character;
- Have an adequate knowledge of your responsibilities and privileges as a citizen; and
- Have a basic knowledge of the English language.
Why become an Australian citizen?
There are many great reasons to acquire Australian citizenship including the benefits that are exclusive to Australian citizens. These include:
- Entitlement to an Australian passport which gives you easy access to 185 visa free destinations (*2021 Henley Passport Index);
- Ability to travel in and out of Australia as often as you wish (once the travel ban arising from the pandemic is lifted);
- Remain overseas for as long as you wish;
- Employment opportunities within Federal Government sectors and its agencies such as:
– Australian Federal Police
– Australian Defence Force
– Australian Border Force
- Critical consular support while overseas which will be invaluable in difficult situations (eg. major emergency, accident, illness, crime, etc);
- Substantial financial subsidies, known as Higher Education Contribution Scheme/Higher Educational Loan Program (HECS-HELP) fees, for Commonwealth supported places at major public universities and certain private higher education providers;
- Ability to defer repayments for HECS-HELP fees; and
- Entry into politics and the ability to contest an election.
How can being an Australian Citizen Protect you from being deported?
Acquiring Australian citizenship also protects you from having your visa or residency cancelled.
Cancellations have risen dramatically under the current government and in many cases, the Australian Government’s Department of Home Affairs exercises discretion on whether or not to cancel a visa due to tougher character tests and broader discretionary powers.
A visa holder may be judged as failing the ‘Character Test’ if they have ever been sentenced to 12 months or more imprisonment (regardless of time actually served). The Department of Home Affairs (and the Minister) also have discretionary power to cancel a visa on the basis that a person ‘could pose a risk to the community’, or that they are deemed to ‘not be of good character’. As a result of this, we have even seen more and more visa cancellations being issued to those who have never committed a serious offence.
In particular, the recent removal or deportation of a number of New Zealand citizens by the Department of Home Affairs under tougher character tests, has highlighted the fact that New Zealanders are in fact on a visa while living in Australia.
This has caused many visa holders and New Zealanders to question if they should become Australian citizens, and rightly so.
Challenges to becoming an Australian citizen
Not everyone who applies for Australian citizenship is successful. The Department of Home Affairs may not approve your application for Australian citizenship under the following circumstances:
- If the Department cannot be satisfied with your identity which it assesses from the time of your birth;
- Where criminal offences are involved;
- If you are assessed to be a risk to the national security of Australia;
- If you ceased to be an Australian citizen in the last 12 months; and
- If you are outside of Australia at the time your application is decided, unless you satisfied one of the special residence requirements, or the spouse or interdependent partner discretion was applied to assist you to meet the general residence requirement.
Tips for visa applicants
Remember that your application is only one amongst hundreds of thousands of applications which Departmental officers carefully scrutinise. In March 2021 alone, the Department of Home Affairs received 14,654 applications for citizenship.
Here are our top tips for applications:
- Submit all the necessary documents to strongly support your application;
- Promptly respond to the Department’s request for more information or documents. Failure to meet the Department’s deadline can harm your chances of success;
- Ensure that all information in their application is accurate and consistent. Even the most minor detail, such as the wrong date or a wrongly spelt name may contribute to the application being eventually rejected; and
- Review your information on social media to make sure it does not conflict with anything in your application.
Incomplete or inadequate information may result in your application taking longer to be processed. In situations where information provided is found to be inaccurate/incorrect/false/misleading/bogus, this may prove fatal to the application.
Do you need help?
For many years now, Timpson Immigration Lawyers have been helping people create a great life in Australia.
We have successfully assisted clients from all walks of life make the transition from permanent residency to Australian citizenship. These include adopted children from overseas, individuals who have renounced or wish to reclaim their Australian citizenship, former residents of Papua New Guinea, applicants who acquired citizenship through conferral, individuals holding different types of Australian visas, high net-worth individuals unable to meet residency requirements onshore, permanent residents with character issues, clients with criminal issues overseas and clients involved in visa cancellation matters.
Under the guidance and expertise of our Principal Solicitor, an Immigration Law Expert, the team from Timpson Immigration Lawyers will help give you the best chance of becoming a true blue Aussie.
If you are or if someone you know is interested in becoming an Australian citizen, speak with us about how we can help.
Simply call us on +61 7 3166 9100 or send us an email, firstname.lastname@example.org