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Permanent Residency

After a person has obtained an Australian visa, they may consider staying in Australia permanently. In order to do so it will be necessary to apply for permanent residency. Once a person is granted permanent residency there are no restrictions to the length of their stay and they will have access to all the same services and benefits as other Australians.

A person who succeeds in obtaining permanent residency may then want to consider applying for citizenship. Citizenship in Australia does not require a person to give up citizenship of their birth country, as in some situations a person can hold dual citizenship. However, a person’s birth country may require that they give up their citizenship rights in that country.

What is permanent residency?

A permanent resident in Australia has many of the same rights as an Australian citizen but there are some differences. Citizens have an automatic right of entry to Australia; permanent residents do not and must have a valid travel authority. Adult citizens have the right to vote. Adult permanent residents do not.

To have permanent residency in Australia a person must hold a current visa that allows them to live in Australia indefinitely. If a visa only allows the holder to stay for a specific time, as in the case of a student or work visa, they will need to make a separate application for permanent residency.

Permanent residency will either commence at the date the person entered Australia (if they received the visa offshore), or on the date the visa was issued (if they applied onshore).

Professionals and skilled migrants

Professionals and skilled migrants can apply for permanent residency by obtaining a Skilled Regional Visa, or subclass 887 visa. 

To qualify, a person must:

  • have lived in a particular regional area for a minimum of 2 years, or have obtained sponsorship under the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme, 
  • have worked in that specified regional area for a minimum of 12 months, and
  • currently hold a Skilled Regional (Provisional) Visa (subclass 489), a Skilled Regional Visa (subclasses 475 or 487), a Skilled Independent Visa (subclass 495), or a Skilled Designated Area Visa (subclass 496).

If a person has applied for a subclass 495, 487, or 489 visa and now holds a bridging visa A or B, they will also be eligible to apply for a permanent residency visa.

Permanent residency and citizenship

A person may be eligible to apply for citizenship if they currently hold permanent residency in Australia, they satisfy the residential requirements, and they are of good character. New Zealanders who arrive in Australia are given a special category visa which allows them to stay in the country indefinitely, but this does not make them permanent residents for citizenship purposes.

A person must be 18 years or over to apply for citizenship. Children younger than this can be included on a parent’s application.

The application form for citizenship varies depending on the age and health of the applicant. Form 1290 is used for anyone under 18 or over 60, and anyone with a physical or mental incapacity which is permanent or likely to be long-standing, or anyone with a significant impairment in hearing, sight, or speech. For 1300 applies to all others applicants.

Becoming a citizen 

After a person applies for citizenship they will have to undergo a citizenship test. The test consists of 20 questions, and 75% must be answered correctly. Once the application is approved the applicant will be required to attend a citizenship ceremony where they will make the citizenship pledge or affirmation. This is to publicly pledge or affirm their loyalty and commitment to Australia.  

If a non-citizen has a child in Australia, the child is not automatically an Australian citizen. This means that if a person is on a temporary visa or on holidays, having a child in Australia will not give them or the child the right to reside here permanently. However, if the child lives in Australia until their 10th birthday they will automatically become a citizen regardless of the visa status of their parents. 

Children who are born overseas and whose parent is an Australian citizen can automatically obtain citizenship by descent. 

If you require legal advice or representation in any 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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