Becoming an Australian Citizen
Updated on Nov 08, 2022 • 4 min read • 860 views • Copy Link
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. They must also 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 prior twelve months. A person must also be of good character to be granted citizenship.
In situations where a person has previously been an Australian citizen and is applying to resume their citizenship or where the applicant is a child adopted outside Australia by an Australian citizen, the above requirements do not apply. For more details about these types of applications, see the Department of Home Affairs website.
Requirements of general citizenship applications
Citizenship by conferral or descent
Australian citizenship by conferral is a common way to become Australian. A person must apply, show that they meet eligibility requirements, pay a fee, and subsequently has citizenship conferred on them through a ceremony.
Citizenship by descent occurs when a person who was born overseas applies for citizenship on the basis that one or both of their parents was an Australian citizen.
Australian citizenship costs by conferral
- Adults $490 AUD
- Aged 16 or 17 $300 AUD
- There is no cost for a child 15 years or younger applying on same form as a parent.
Read More: Becoming an Australian Citizen by Conferral
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 totalling 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 fulfil the character test. Information from a person’s citizenship will also be provided to the police of all Australian states and territories to complete police checks.
Australian citizenship test
To be approved to become an Australian Citizen, you must pass a citizenship test. To pass the test you must show that you have:
- a basic knowledge of the English language;
- an understanding of what it means to become an Australian citizen;
- an adequate knowledge of Australia and the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship
- an understanding and commitment to Australian values based on freedom, respect and equality.
Applicants must achieve a minimum of 75% to pass the test. The test is in English and must be sat by all applicants except:
- Those aged 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.
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 the country and declares that they share the country’s democratic beliefs, respect its rights and liberties and will uphold and obey its laws.
Applicants who were under 16 when they applied for citizenship or who have an enduring incapacity are not required to attend a citizenship ceremony. Children who are included on their parent’s application do not have to attend the ceremony but may do so if they wish to.
Applicants then receive their Citizenship Certificate, which is required when applying for a passport.
Application processing times
Citizenship by conferral processing
An application for citizenship by conferral is generally processed within a period of 18 months and the person is able to attend a Citizenship Ceremony within 12 months of approval.
Citizenship by descent
Applications for citizenship by descent are generally processed within four months.
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