Australian Citizenship

Australian citizenship is most commonly available to people by conferral and by descent. Permanent Residents of Australia and Eligible New Zealand citizens have pathways to citizenship if they meet certain criteria which is explained in further detail below.

Citizenship is also available to certain people in other circumstances outlined below.

Basic Eligiblity Criteria

At the time you apply you must have been:

  • living in Australia on a valid visa for the past 4 years
  • a permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen for the past 12 months
  • away from Australia for no more than 12 months in total in the past 4 years, including no more than 90 days in total in the past 12 months

Certain exemptions to the residence requirement apply in very limited circumstances.

You must be of ‘good character’ if you are aged over 18 years. The Department will assess your past and present conduct to ensure you meet the Character Test under the Migration Act.

Most applicants for Australian citizenship will be required to sit the Citizenship Test.

The test covers:

  • Australia and its people
  • Australia’s democratic beliefs, rights and liberties, and
  • Government and the law in Australia
Australian Citizenship By Conferral

Citizenship by Conferral – Australian Permanent Residents

Citizenship by Conferral requires permanent residents to be eligible for Australian citizenship if:

  • They are a holder of a current permanent resident visa
  • Have lived in Australia on a valid visa for at least the last 4 years
  • Have held a permanent residency visa for at least the last 12 months
  • Have not spent more than 12 months outside of Australia in the last four years including not being outside of Australia for more than 90 days in the past 12 months
  • They are of ‘good character’
  • Complete the Citizenship Test (if applicable)
  • Not have any past issues relating to identity, character, risk factor or if you ceased to be an Australian Citizen in the past 12 months

Children 16 or 17 years old can be waived from meeting this requirement if it would cause significant hardship or disadvantage on a case by case basis.

Schedule a Consultation with Ethos Migration Lawyers for Expert Immigration Advice and Assistance

Exemptions to the Residency Requirement

Certain applicants are exempt from meeting the above criteria relating to the amount of time they have spent in Australia.

These exemptions are:

  • If you are a member of the Australian Defence Force (ADF)
  • If the Minister varies the residence requirement (exceptional circumstances only)
  • If you were undertaking specific activities supported by organisations (such as a National Sports Organisation or a federal government agency)
  • If you engaged in specific work that required overseas travel

Citizenship by Descent – Your parent was an Australian Citizen when you were born overseas

People who were born to an Australian Citizen at the time of their birth may be eligible for Australian citizenship by Descent.

To be eligible for citizenship by Descent you must:

  • Have been born outside of Australia on or after 26 January 1949
  • One of your parents was an Australian citizen at the time of your birth
  • Be of ‘Good Character’ if you are above 18 years of age when you apply

You may also be eligible for citizenship by Descent if you were born outside Australia through an international surrogacy arrangement.

Australian Citizenship - Other Circumstances

There are other circumstances that may entitle you to Australian citizenship. These are:

  • You are an Australian Permanent Resident Child 15 years old or younger and applying on your own
  • You were born to a former Australian citizen
  • You were adopted as a Child outside Australia by an Australian citizen
  • You were born in Papua before its independence in 1975
  • You are born in Australia and are stateless
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