Becoming a citizen of Australia is the final legal step in your migration story. It is a process in which a non-Australian citizen voluntarily becomes an Australian citizen. Australian citizens pledge their loyalty to Australia and its people and are then entitled to its protection and to exercise their rights and responsibilities as citizens.
As a permanent resident of Australia, you generally can:
- stay in Australia indefinitely
- work and study in Australia
- enrol in Australia’s national health scheme, Medicare
- apply for bank loans to buy property
- sponsor eligible relatives for permanent residence
- apply for Australian citizenship, if eligible
- travel to and from Australia as many times as you want until your travel validity expires
- have consular protection
You may also qualify for other government benefits and services. If you hold a permanent resident visa, but you are not residing in Australia, your eligibility for the above may be impacted. Contact the relevant authorities to confirm your rights and obligations.
Unlike Australian citizens, you generally can’t:
- have an Australian passport
- vote in Australian Government elections unless you enrolled (as a British subject) before 26 January 1984
- access student loans
- join the Australian Defence Force
- obtain ongoing work in the Australian Government
- return to Australia from overseas unless your permanent residence visa’s travel validity has not expired (you do not have the automatic right of entry to Australia)
You can find all information about Australian Pension on https://www.humanservices.gov.au
When you become an Australian citizen, you will have new responsibilities in your new country. You will also be eligible for a range of new benefits expressly for Australian Citizens.
Your Responsibilities – what you will give Australia
As an Australian citizen, you must:
- Obey the law
- Defend Australia should the need arise
- Serve on a jury if called to do so
- Vote in federal, state or territory elections, and referendums
Your Privileges – what Australia will give you
As an Australian citizen, you have the right to:
- Vote in federal, state or territory elections, and in a referendum
- Apply for work in the Australian Public Service and the Australian Defence Force
- Seek election to Parliament
- Apply for an Australian passport and re-enter Australia freely
- Receive help from an Australian embassy while overseas
- Register children born overseas as Australian citizens by descent
Acquisition of Australian Citizenship
- Automatic Acquisition of Australian Citizenship
- Citizenship by Birth
Generally, you become an Australian citizen automatically if you are born in Australia AND one or both of your parents are Australian citizens or permanent residents when you are born.
- Acquisition of Australian Citizenship by Application
- Citizenship by Descent
You may be eligible to become an Australian citizen under this Subdivision in 2 situations:
- you were born outside Australia on or after 26 January 1949 and a parent of yours was an Australian citizen at the time of your birth: see subsection 16(2); or
- you were born outside Australia or New Guinea before 26 January 1949 and a parent of yours was an Australian citizen on 26 January 1949: see subsection 16(3).
- Citizenship by Conferral
You may be eligible for Australian citizenship by conferral if you are a permanent resident in one of the following seven situations:
- Satisfy general, special or defence residence requirements and have successfully completed a citizenship test
- Satisfy general, special or defence residence requirements and have a permanent or enduring physical or mental incapacity
- Satisfy general, special or defence residence requirements and are aged 60 or over or have a hearing, speech or sight impairment
- Are aged under 18
- Are born outside Australia to a former Australian citizen
- Were born in Papua before Papua New Guinea gained independence,16 September 1975, to a parent born in Australia and an Australian citizen at the time of birth
- Are a stateless person
- Resuming Citizenship
There are situations where a former Australian citizen wishes to apply again for citizenship, they may be eligible to become an Australian citizen if they ceased to be a Citizen either under the current Act or the old Citizenship Act 1948. The individual must make a new application to become a citizen again.
Acquisition of Australian Citizenship by New Zealanders
For New Zealand citizens living in Australia to become an Australian citizen, you need to answer the following questions:
- Have you arrived and started living in Australia on or before 26 February 2001? If the answer is yes, Check if you are an eligible New Zealand citizen.
- Have you arrived in Australia after 26 February 2001 & before 19 February 2016? If yes, you must first become a permanent resident then you can apply for citizenship.
- Have you arrived in Australia after 19 February 2016? If yes, you will have to go through other visa options as any other applicant.
Australian Citizenship Steps
- Completing and lodging an application form
- Citizenship appointment or test
Once you have lodged an application and it has been received, they will be invited to attend a citizenship appointment.
The result of the test is provided on the day. The processing times for citizenship applications vary. Generally speaking, the Department aims to process applications
within 6 months of lodgment.
- Attend a citizenship ceremony
Once their application has been approved they will be able to attend a citizenship ceremony. It generally takes around 3 – 6 weeks to be invited to your ceremony.
Appeals of Australian Citizenship Applications
If your citizenship application is refused you have the right to ask for the decision to be reviewed by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Your letter of notification will advise you where you can lodge your application for review and the time limits for applying. Should you need advice for an Administrative Appeals Tribunal hearing (Highly Advised) Migration Downunder can help you prepare a submission for review.