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Permanent Residency and Citizenship

If you have obtained a visa to work or study in Australia, you may be considering calling Australia your home indefinitely. To do so you will have to first apply for permanent residency. Once this is granted there are no restrictions to the length of your stay, and you will also have access to all the services and benefits of other Australians.

You may then also want to consider applying for citizenship. Citizenship in Australia does not require you to give up citizenship of your birth country, as in some situations you can hold dual citizenship. However, your birth country may require that you surrender your citizenship rights in that country.

A permanent resident has many of the same rights as a citizen but there are differences. Citizens have an automatic right of entry to Australia; permanent residents do not and must have a valid travel authority. Citizens have a right to vote, whereas permanent residents do not.

Permanent Residency

Permanent Residency in Australia

To be classed as having permanent residency in Australia you must hold a current visa that allows you to live in Australia indefinitely. If your visa only allows you to stay for a specific time, as in the case of a student or work visa, you will need to make a separate application for permanent residency.

Your permanent residency will either commence at the date you entered Australia if you received your visa offshore, or on the date your visa was issued if you applied onshore.

Professional or Skilled Migrants

If you are a professional or skilled migrant, you can apply for permanent residency by obtaining a Skilled Regional Visa, or subclass 887 visa. To qualify, you must:

  • have lived in a particular regional area for at least 2 years, or obtained sponsorship under the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme,
  • have worked in that specified regional area for at least 12 months, and
  • currently hold a Skilled Regional (Provisional) Visa (subclass 489), a Skilled Regional Visa (subclasses 475 or 487), a Skilled Independent Visa (subclass 495), or a Skilled Designated Area Visa (subclass 496).

If you have applied for a subclass 495, 487, or 489 visa and now hold a bridging visa A or B, you will also be eligible to apply for a permanent residency visa.

Eligibility for Citizenship

You may be eligible to apply for citizenship if you currently hold permanent residency in Australia, you satisfy the residential requirements, and you are of good character. New Zealanders who arrive in Australia are automatically given a special category visa which allows them to stay indefinitely, but this does not make them a permanent resident for citizenship purposes.

Applying for Citizenship

You must be 18 years or over to apply for citizenship. Children younger than this are included in their parent’s application.

The application form for citizenship varies depending on your age and health. Form 1290 is used for anyone under the age of 18 years or over 60 years, and anyone with a physical or mental incapacity which is either permanent or likely to be enduring, or anyone with a significant impairment in hearing, sight, or speech. Form 1300t applies to all others applicants.

Becoming a Citizen

After you apply for citizenship you will have to undergo a citizenship test. The test consists of 20 questions, and you must answer 75% correctly. Once your application has been approved you will then be required to attend a citizenship ceremony where you will make the citizenship pledge or affirmation. This is to publicly pledge or affirm your loyalty and commitment to Australia.

All Australian citizens are allowed to hold dual citizenship, but some countries prohibit it. If this is the case you will lose your current citizenship with your birth country when you become an Australian citizen.

If your child is born in Australia, they are not automatically an Australian citizen unless one of their parents is an Australian citizen or permanent resident. This means that if you are on a temporary visa or on holidays, having a child in Australia will not give you or your child the right to permanently reside here. However, if the child resides in Australia until their 10th birthday they will be automatically deemed an Australian citizen regardless of their parent’s visa status.

Children who are born overseas and whose parent is an Australian citizen can automatically obtain citizenship by descent.  


Michelle Makela

Michelle Makela is one of our Legal Practice Directors and the National Practice Manager. She holds a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Master’s in Criminology. Michelle has had a varied career, working in commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning. Michelle joined Go To Court Lawyers in 2011. She now supervises a team of over 80 solicitors across Australia.

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