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Australian citizenship represents full and formal membership of the community of the Commonwealth of Australia. This means that, as a citizen of Australia, you will have the right to:

  • Travel in and out of Australia without requiring a visa
  • Vote in government elections
  • Apply for any public office or stand for election as a Member of Parliament
  • Apply for an Australian passport
  • Apply to serve in the Australian Defence Forces
  • Apply for certain government jobs in the public sector
  • Register your children as Australian citizens
  • Request emergency assistance from Australian consular staff when travelling outside Australia

These rights are in addition to those that people already hold as permanent residents of Australia.

Persons on whom Australian citizenship is conferred enjoy these rights and also undertake to accept the following obligations:

  • Pledge loyalty to Australia and its people
  • Share in Australia’s democratic beliefs
  • Respect other Australian citizens’ rights and liberties
  • Uphold and obey the laws of Australia
  • Becoming an Australian citizen

A person is automatically a citizen of Australia if they were born in Australia:

  • Before 20 August 1986, provided their parents were not in Australia as foreign diplomats or consular officers at the time of birth; or
  • On or after 20 August 1986 and at least one of their parents was an Australian citizen or permanent resident at the time of birth.

In other instances, a formal registration or application process is required to secure Australian citizenship.

Some of the most common pathways to citizenship, and the key criteria, are set out below. There are exceptions to a number of the criteria, but such cases will require analysis of circumstances to assess eligibility.

Citizenship by Conferral

You may be eligible to become an Australian citizen if you:

  • Are aged 18 years of age or over;
  • Have held Australian permanent residency for the last 12 months with no more than 90 days absence from Australia;
  • Have been lawfully in Australia for the last 4 years with no more than 12 months absence from Australia;
  • Have successfully sat the citizenship test, which shows you:
    • understand what it means to become a citizen of Australia
    • have a basic understanding of Australia and the privileges and responsibilities involved in becoming an Australian citizen; and
    • have a basic knowledge of the English language;
  • Are likely to continue to reside in Australia, or maintain a close association with Australia, once you have become a citizen; and
  • Are of good character.

Citizenship by Descent

Generally speaking, eligibility under this pathway is possible if 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; or
  • Were born outside Australia or New Guinea before 26 January 1949 and a parent of yours was an Australian citizen on 26 January 1949.

Citizenship by Adoption

Australian citizenship is available via this route if you:

  • Have been adopted outside Australia in accordance with the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption by at least one Australian citizen; or
  • Are a child and have been adopted in Australia/overseas with adoption finalised under Australian law and you are present in Australia as a permanent resident and one of the adoptive parents is an Australian citizen.

Other categories of people who may be eligible for Australian citizenship include (but are not limited to):

  • A child born to a former Australian citizen
  • A child born in Australia on or after 20 August 1986, who did not acquire citizenship automatically at birth, and who has been ordinarily resident in Australia throughout the 10 year period beginning on the day of their birth
  • A child less than 15 applying on their own
  • A former Australian citizen, seeking to resume their Australian citizenship
  • A person born in Australia and who is stateless
  • A child born in Australia and has been abandoned

How we can help

We have assisted applicants in the following areas:

  • Investigating prior citizenship or permanent residency status of parents
  • Assessing residence requirement exceptions, especially for persons who have spent significant periods outside Australia
  • Issues affecting the character requirement, including persons with criminal convictions or an immigration history that is deemed “unacceptable” by the Department
  • Questions concerning identity
  • Claims of abandonment in Australia
  • Stateless applicants

The work involved in the preparation will vary from case to case. Our services cover:

  • Reviewing the evidence and advising on prospects and strategy
  • Advising as to the documentary evidence required in support of the case
  • Drafting detailed reasons in support of complex cases
  • Preparing and lodging the application

To discuss how we can assist you with advice, as well as in preparing and lodging your citizenship application, please click here to contact Visa Lawyers Australia.