Celebrating Australian Citizenship Day and what it takes to become an Australian citizen

Australian flag with pieces of wood in the background

Since 1949, more than 5 million people have become Australian citizens. In 2018-19, more than 127,000 people from over 200 different countries became Australian citizens. There are many advantages of holding an Australian citizenship. Some of these include being able to apply for an Australian passport, having the right to vote in elections, travelling in and out of Australia as many times as you want and being able to request Australian consular assistance if you are overseas. Read on to see whether you would be eligible for automatic citizenship or are able to apply for Australian citizenship. 

Citizenship by birth

Despite what many people believe, a person is not automatically granted citizenship by being born in Australia. A person born in Australia can automatically acquire citizenship if at least one of their parents was an Australian citizen or a permanent resident at the time they were born. A child who was born in Australia and has been permanently living in Australia up until the age of 10, will automatically acquire citizenship when they turn 10 years of age. 

Citizenship by adoption

Automatic citizenship can also be granted to a child who was adopted under State or Territory law by at least one Australian citizen at the time of the adoption. The child must also have been living in Australia as a permanent resident.

Citizenship by descent

If you were born overseas and one of your parents was an Australian citizen at the time you were born, you may be eligible to apply for citizenship. This is provided that you are of good character (for applicants 18 years of age and older) and your Australian citizen parent has spent at least two years in Australia at any time before you apply for citizenship. If your parent does not meet this requirement, then you may still qualify if you have never been a citizen of any other country. 

Citizenship by conferral (permanent resident)

Another way to apply for citizenship is if you are a permanent resident of Australia or an eligible New Zealand citizen. To be eligible for citizenship as a permanent resident or an eligible New Zealand citizen, you must: 

  • Be aged 18 years or over

  • Have lived in Australia with a valid visa for at least the past four years

  • Been a permanent resident for at least the past 12 months

  • Not been outside of Australia for more than 12 months in total for the past four years

  • Not been outside of Australia for more than 90 days in total in the past 12 months

  • Meet character requirements

  • Pass the citizenship test (not required if you are 60 years of age or older)

  • Demonstrate that you are maintaining a close and continuing association with Australia

A permanent resident who is aged 15 years or under can apply for citizenship with their responsible parent who is also applying for citizenship. They can also apply on their own without having to pass the citizenship test, meet character requirements or been living in Australia for a minimum amount of time. A permanent resident aged 16 or 17 years old will generally need to meet the same requirements as those aged 18 years or over when applying for citizenship. 

What happens after I submit my application?

Current processing times for Australian citizenship application vary depending on which stream you are eligible to apply for. It may take up to 2 years for the Department of Home Affairs to notify you of their decision. Before a decision is made, most people will need to attend an interview and sit the citizenship test. You will be notified in writing of the date, time and place of the appointment. 

If your citizenship application is approved, those who applied for citizenship by conferral will need to attend a citizenship ceremony to make the Australian Citizenship pledge. This is where you will receive your Australian citizenship certificate. For those who received a refusal of their citizenship application, they will have the right to review that decision by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). Details of how and when to apply for review will be outlined in the notification letter. 

Assistance in applying for Australian citizenship

The team at Titan Migration provides advice and assistance to people wishing to apply for Australian citizenship. If you would like to know whether you’re eligible or if you need us to handle your application, email us at info@titanmigration.com.au or call us on +61 (02) 8003 5330.