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Citizenship Australia

Becoming an Australian Citizen

For many people who have come to live within Australia, aspiring to become an Australian citizen can be a significant milestone in their migration journey. In Australia, there are three ways that people can become an Australian citizen, including a pathway for those who were not born here or are not the child of an Australian citizen. Despite there being three pathways however, all Australian citizens have the same rights, privileges and responsibilities. 

While applicants are able to apply for Australian citizenship independently, for those who need additional support or advice an Australian Migration Lawyer is available to assist applicants navigate through this process.

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What is Australian citizenship?

Australian citizenship is a formal legal status that is conferred upon individuals that is different from being an Australian permanent resident. It symbolises an individual’s full integration into the Australian community and provides them with a range of rights and benefits that are only available to Australian citizens. All citizens, regardless of how the citizenship has been conferred, have the same rights and responsibilities. Beyond simple legal recognition, Australian citizenship represents a dedication to Australia’s democratic principles, cultural diversity and ideals of equality, tolerance, compassion and mutual respect. For some, Australian citizenship helps foster a sense of belonging and unites them under a collective identity of the nation.

Eligibility criteria for Australian citizenship

Benefits & entitlements of Australian citizenship

Primarily, receiving Australian citizenship solidifies an individual’s connection with Australia and provides them legal status akin to having been born in Australia. However, there are also a number of additional benefits to being an Australian citizen that include:

  • Being eligible for an Australian passport.
  • Being able to vote in federal, state and territory elections (as well as in a referendum).
  • Being able to apply for children born overseas to become Australian citizens.
  • Being able to apply for a job in the Australian Public Service or in the Australian Defence Force.
  • Being able to seek election to an Australian parliament.
  • Being able to leave and re-enter Australia freely without restriction.
  • Being able to seek consular assistance from an Australian official while overseas.

Australian citizenship checklist

For applicants who meet the eligibility criteria to apply for Australian citizenship, there are a number of documents and pieces of supporting evidence that need to be provided when making an application. While not an exhaustive list, the following details the types of documents that should be provided by applicants when making their application.

  • Birth Certificate
  • Passport
  • Documents evidencing arrival into Australia
  • Australian drivers licence (if applicable)
  • National identity card (if applicable)
  • Documents issued for the purposes of migration (if applicable)
  • Military identity document (if applicable)
  • Proof of age card (if applicable)
  • Student Card (if applicable) 
  • Bank statements (if applicable)
  • Property related documents (mortgage/lease/bills) (if applicable)
  • Overseas penal clearance certificates
  • Australian National Police Check
  • Evidence of close and continuing link to Australia 
  • Evidence of eligibility (if applicable)
  • Evidence of exemptions, ministerial discretions and concessions (if applicable)
  • Evidence to meet the special residence requirement (if applicable)
  • Evidence of residence for British Migrants (if applicable)

All documents that are submitted to the Department of Home Affairs must be translated into English and certified by an appropriate person.

While there are a large number of documents that need to be provided to the Department and documents that need to be submitted in specific circumstances, an Australian Migration Lawyer can help applicants identify, collate and lodge the required documents and ensure that sufficient evidence is provided in any given citizenship application.

How the Australian citizenship works

The pathway for acquiring Australian citizenship involves several stages and mirrors the procedural framework applicable to visa application in Australia. As stated above, there are three ways that citizenship can be granted so applicants should carefully consider any available pathways and the associated eligibility criteria before applying for Australian citizenship. Following this, applicants should collect all of the relevant documents and evidence required to make their application. When ready, applicants can lodge their application online (or on paper in specific circumstances). Applications can be made both inside and outside of Australia. For individuals aged between 18 and 59 years old, they will usually be required to sit the Australian citizenship test or have an interview with the Department after their application has been lodged. The Department will then consider the application and seek further information if necessary. Once a decision has been made, the Department will contact applicants in writing of the decision.  If successful, applicants will be asked to attend a citizenship ceremony and make the Australian citizenship pledge of commitment. Where applicants are unsuccessful, the Department will provide the reasons for the refusal and relevant information on lodging a review.

At Australian Migration Lawyers, we are committed to helping applicants navigate the citizenship process and can provide information, guidance and assistance wherever required.

Australian citizenship test

Many applicants will be required to sit an Australian citizenship test as a part of the application process. This is a computer-based test that consists of 20 questions, focusing on Australian values. To pass, applicants are required to answer all 5 values questions correctly and achieve an overall score of 75%. Test appointments take place at test centres located around Australia. Information about Australia and its people, Australia’s democratic beliefs, rights and liberties, Government and the law in Australia and Australian values will be tested. The Australian Government has created several guidebooks and resources that applicants can use in order to prepare for the citizenship test. The outcome of the test will not affect an applicant’s current status within Australia, but may affect the citizenship application. Applicants will have three chances to successfully pass the test. 

An Australian Migration Lawyer can provide specific information about the testing process or assist applicants prepare for the citizenship test where needed.

Australian citizenship costs

There are costs associated with making an Australian citizenship application. These costs can be found on Form 1298i (Citizenship application fees). 

  • Application for Australian citizenship (general eligibility) (Form 1300t) = $540
  • Application for Australian citizenship (other situations) (Form 1290) = $330
  • Application for Australian citizenship by descent (Form 118) = $345

Applicants should be aware that there are no costs for children under the age of 15 who are applying for Australian citizenship on the same form as a responsible parent. However, any other subsequent applicants will attract a subsequent application fee.

Applicants should also note that several fee concessions and exemptions do apply to citizenship applications.

For more information please see the official Department website or contact an Australian Migration Lawyer.

Dual Citizenship in Australia

Applicants should be aware that dual citizenship, or dual nationality, is permitted in Australia. 

However, even though it is permitted in Australia, applicants should check whether their home country allows them to hold dual citizenship for any other country. 

For applicants concerned about whether they can hold dual citizenship, they should contact local authorities in their home country or speak to an Australian Migration Lawyer.

Visa application process

Applying for a visa to Australia can be complex. With help from an Australian Migration Lawyer, we can untangle this complexity, and help you apply for the right visa.

1. Consultation and engagement

2. Preparation and support

3. Submission and communication

4. Representation and success

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Australian citizenship processing times

As citizenship applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis and generally in the order that they are received, it can be difficult to exactly predict how long any given application will take. Processing times can be affected by a range of factors, including where applicants provide incomplete, inaccurate or insufficient applications. 

On the Department’s official website, the Department publishes provisional timeframes for how long applications are taking to be processed. For applicants who are applying for citizenship by conferral, 90% of applicants are processed within 9 months of being received. For applicants who are applying for citizenship by descent, 90% of applications are processed within 5 months of being received. For applicants who are applying for an Australian citizenship certificate (evidence of Australian citizenship), 90% of applications are processed within 21 days of being received.

Applicants should also be aware that there are also wait times for the citizenship ceremony. These ceremonies are usually organised by local government councils. Which ceremony applicants are invited to attend will depend on the applicant’s residential address. Applicants can see provisional timeframes for citizenship ceremonies with different local councils on the official Department website.

Where applicants require specific advice regarding estimated citizenship application processing times, they should contact an Australian Migration Lawyer who can provide tailored advice to an applicant’s particular circumstances.

Benefits of using a migration lawyer

While applicants are empowered to apply for Australian citizenship on their own, engaging the support of an Australian Migration Lawyer can be extremely beneficial. An Australian Migration Lawyer can assist potential applicants at any stage in the application process, from helping identify potential citizenship pathways to lodging a citizenship application. Additionally, at Australian Migration Lawyers, we are familiar with Australia’s immigration laws, policies and regulations, and can assist applicants to understand what is required of them during the application process.

Furthermore, an Australian Migration Lawyer can help create, compile and submit a ‘decision-ready’ application that provides all the relevant information and evidence to the Department to prevent any avoidable delays in processing. While an Australian Migration Agent cannot guarantee that the application will be successful, as the Department has sole discretion over the adjudication of applications, they can help ensure that applicants give themselves the best opportunity to receive Australian citizenship. For individuals that need information, guidance or assistance in applying for Australian citizenship, contact an Australian Migration Lawyer who is committed to helping applicants navigate the process with ease and confidence. 

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Frequently asked questions

Read our most frequently asked questions about Global Talent visas

How do I get an Australian citizenship?

There are three ways that individuals can seek Australian citizenship: by birth, by descent and by conferral. The most common way for those born outside of Australia is by conferral from the Australian Government. There are specific eligibility criteria that apply to those seeking Australian citizenship by conferral, as described above.

How much is an Australian citizenship?

The cost of an Australian citizenship application can range depending on how the citizenship is being applied for and the circumstances of the application. Generally, most applicants will be required to pay $540 plus any additional fees for additional applicants. Applicants should be aware that there are concessions and exemptions that are available to applicants where eligible.

How long does it take to get an Australian citizenship?

It can be difficult to predict exactly how long it will take for an individual to be granted Australian citizenship. This is because there are a range of factors that can affect application processing times. At the current time the Department of Home Affairs estimates that 90% of applications are processed within 9 months of being submitted. However, this information should only be used as a guide. 

Can a retired person immigrate to Australia?

While there are eligibility criteria set by the Department restricting who is able to apply for Australian citizenship, there are no restrictions placed on an applicant’s age at the time when the application is made.

How hard is it to get an Australian citizenship?

Obtaining Australian citizenship can be a time consuming and long process. The process involves meeting eligibility criteria, lodging a complete application, passing a citizenship test or interview and demonstrating a commitment to Australian values. However, while the process is rigorous, with proper preparation and guidance, individuals can successfully attain citizenship and reap the benefits of being an Australian citizen.

About the content author

Perry Q Wood
Partner - Principal Migration Lawyer

Perry Q Wood is National President of the Australian Institute of Administrative Law and one of Australia’s leading administrative and migration lawyers. To date, he has been involved in 1,000+ migration and refugee matters.

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