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Becoming an Australian Citizen

To be eligible to become an Australian Citizen, a person must have lived legally in Australia for the past four years. A person must have had permanent residency status for the four years prior to applying and must have lived in Australia for at least nine months out of the twelve months before applying. A person must also be of good character.

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

Evidence requirements

Applicants must provide the following original documents:

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

Good character

Applicants for citizenship must be of good character. This means they must have the ‘moral qualities’ that suggest they are likely to uphold the laws of Australia. A person will fail the character test if he or she has a ‘substantial criminal record’, including having been sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 12 months or more or to two or more sentences totaling 12 months or more (Migration Act, Section 501).

Under Section 24(6) of the Australian Citizenship Act 2007, the Minister for Home Affairs must not approve an application for citizenship if at the time of the application the applicant has criminal proceedings pending against them in an Australian court, is in prison, or under certain other proscribed circumstances.

However, a person does not have to have been convicted of a criminal offence to fail the character test. A person can also fail because of their ‘general conduct.’

Applicants may be required to obtain police checks from other countries they have lived in to fulfill the character test.

Citizenship test

To be approved to become an Australian Citizen, you must pass a citizenship test to show that you have an adequate knowledge of Australian culture. The test consists of 20 questions about Australia’s laws, political system, geography, rights and liberties and people. Applicants must achieve a minimum of 75% to pass the test. The test is in English and must be sat by all applicants for citizenships, except:

  • Those under 18 or over 60;
  • Those with significant hearing, speech or sight impairments;
  • Those who applied prior to 1 October 2007;
  • Those with evidence of a relevant physical or mental incapacity;
  • Those who were born to a former Australian citizen;
  • Those who are stateless and were born in Australia;

Applicants with a disability or a low level of English literacy may be given assistance to take the test.

Citizenship ceremony

Once an application for citizenship is approved, the applicant is invited to attend a Citizenship Ceremony. At the ceremony, applicants will be required to make an Australian Citizenship Pledge, which pledges their loyalty to Australia and declares that they share the country’s democratic beliefs, respect its rights and liberties and will uphold and obey its laws.

Applicants then receive their Citizenship Certificate, which is required when applying for a passport.

Application fee

The application to become an Australian Citizen costs $285. The average processing time for an application is three months.

If you need advice about an immigration matter or any other legal matter please contact Go To Court Lawyers.


Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Arts, a Master of Arts and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. She practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection, domestic violence and family law in the Northern Territory and Queensland.

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