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Applying for Australian Citizenship

To be eligible to get Australian Citizenship, a person must have lived legally in Australia for a minimum of four years. It is a requirement to have had permanent residency status for the four years prior to applying for citizenship and you must have lived in Australia for at least nine months out of the twelve months before applying. A person must also show that they are of good character.

There are, however, some situations where the above requirements do not apply. If a person has previously been an Australian citizen and is applying to resume their citizenship or if they are a child adopted outside Australia by an Australian citizen, they need not fulfil the above criteria. For more details about these types of applications, see the Department of Home Affairs website. The requirements for general Australian citizenship applications are outlined below.

Evidence requirements

Applicants for Australian citizenship must provide the following original documents:

  • A good quality photograph against a light-coloured background taken in the last six months;
  • Their hand-written original signature;
  • Proof of residence;
  • Identification bearing their name, date of birth and gender.

Good character

Applicants for citizenship must be persons of good character. This means they must have the moral attributes that suggest they will uphold the laws of Australia. Under Section 501 of the Migration Act, a person will fail the character test if they have a ‘substantial criminal record’, including having been sentenced to imprisonment for 12 months or more or to two or more sentences adding up to 12 months or more.

Under Section 24(6) of the Australian Citizenship Act 2007, an application for citizenship must not be approved if at the time of the application the person has criminal proceedings pending in an Australian court, is in prison, or if certain other proscribed circumstances exist.

However, a person can also fail the character test because of their ‘general conduct.’

Applicants may also be required to obtain police checks from other countries to fulfill the character test.

Citizenship test

To be approved to become an Australian Citizen, a person must pass a citizenship test to show that they have a basic knowledge of the English language and of Australian culture. Applicants must show that they understand what it means to become an Australian citizen and are committed to Australian values. 

The test is written in English and must be sat by all applicants for citizenships, except those who:

  • Are under 18 or over 60;
  • Have significant hearing, speech or sight impairments;
  • Applied prior to 1 October 2007;
  • Have evidence of a relevant physical or mental incapacity;
  • Were born to a former Australian citizen;
  • Are stateless and were born in Australia.

Applicants who have a disability or a low level of English literacy may be given help in taking the test.

Citizenship ceremony

If an application for citizenship is approved, the applicant will receive an invitation to attend a Citizenship Ceremony. At the ceremony, applicants will have to make an Australian Citizenship Pledge, where they pledge their loyalty to Australia and declare that they share the country’s democratic beliefs, respect its rights and liberties and will uphold and obey its laws.

Applicants then receive a Citizenship Certificate, which they must present when applying for a passport.

Application fee

There is a $285 fee attached to an application to become an Australian Citizen. The average time it takes to process an application is three months.

If you need advice about an immigration matter or any other legal matter please contact Armstrong Legal. 

Tanguy Mwilambwe - National Practice Director - Brisbane

This article was written by Tanguy Mwilambwe - National Practice Director - Brisbane

Tanguy is the National Practice Director in the areas of Administrative Law and Immigration Law. He is able to assist clients in court matters throughout most Australian jurisdictions, in relation to Administrative and Immigration decisions. Tanguy has appeared in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, Federal Circuit Court of Australia, Federal Court of Australia, state courts (including Supreme, District and Magistrates Courts)...

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