Australians are lucky enough to enjoy a democratic system and certain rights that are only available to those born in Australia or with Australian citizenship.
Australian immigration laws
If you would like to learn more about Australian immigration laws, then the main legal document that you should check out is the Australian Citizenship Act 2007. This Act outlines the law for how you can get Australia citizenship.
The Act goes into detail about:
- the way in which people can automatically become Australian citizens
- the eligibility requirements to acquire Australian citizenship
- the residency requirement, explaining that most citizenship applicants must lawfully live in Australia for four years just before making an application
- other situations for which a person may become an Australian citizen
- occasions when a person may be refused Australian citizenship
Four steps to applying for Australian citizenship
In a nutshell, there are four steps when applying to become an Australian citizen:
- Check that you are eligible to be an Australian citizen
- Get the originals of your relevant documents
- Certify your documents and make copies of them
- Fill out and submit your Australian citizenship application.
Most of the steps are straightforward, but the trickiest one will be the question of whether or not you are actually eligible for citizenship.
Four ways you could be eligible for Australian citizenship
There are four main ways that you could be eligible to apply for Australian citizenship.
- Australian citizenship by adoption
- Australian citizenship by descent
- Australian citizenship by resumption
- Australian citizenship by conferral
The first two ways of eligibility are relevant if either of your parents were Australian citizens. If so, then you may be able to become an Australia citizen just by being the child of one, including if you were adopted by an Australian.
The third way to get Australian citizenship is to resume it if you were already a citizen before but you lost it somehow, and you now want to get it back again.
So the most relevant way for migrants to get Australian citizenship is ‘by conferral’, which means that Australian citizenship is granted to you if you have met certain requirements, including residency for a period of time, and other requirements.
How to be eligible for Australian citizenship by conferral
If you’re migrating to Australia and you want citizenship, then you’ll need to ensure that you meet all of the eligibility requirements.
Reside in Australia for at least 4 years
You need to have been lawfully resident in Australia for 4 years before you apply for citizenship. The “lawfully resident” requirement can include years that you were living in Australia on a student visa, tourist visa or 457 visa, but you must have lived in Australia as a permanent resident for at least 12 months.
Plan to live in and keep ongoing ties with Australia
You also need to show that you are planning to live in Australia or keep close and ongoing ties with Australia.
Speak and understand English
Another requirement is that you must be able to speak and understand basic English.
Pass the Australian citizenship test
You must pass the Australian citizenship test, which tests you on Australian history, values, traditions and national symbols.
There may be some exceptions to these requirements, such as for spouses of Australian citizens, where some residency requirements are less strict for them.
How to complete and lodge your citizenship application
If you believe that you are eligible for Australian citizenship and you have gathered, certified and copied all your relevant documents, then you have two ways that you can apply:
- Apply online at the Department of Immigration & Border Protection, or
- Fill out a paper form and post it to your nearest office of the Department of Immigration & Border Protection.
Remember that you’ll have to pay a fee for submitting your citizenship application, so check the costs before lodging your application.
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