Australian citizenship is granted basically in three ways:
- By Birth: Children born in Australia automatically acquire Australian citizenship if at least one parent is an Australian citizen or permanent resident at the time of the child's birth.
- By Descent: If a child was born outside Australia and one (or both) of the parents at the time of birth was also an Australian citizen at that time the child could be eligible for Australian citizenship by descent.
- By Conferral: Becoming a citizen of Australia is the final legal step in migration. Australian citizenship by conferral is a common way to become an Australian citizen. You need to be a permanent resident and meet certain criteria before you can apply.
- Be a permanent resident or an eligible New Zealand citizen
- Meet the general residence requirement
Must be of good character if you are 18 years and over
- Score 75% or more in the citizenship test
Basic knowledge of English language
- Intend to live in Australia or maintain a close and continuing association with Australia while overseas.
GENERAL RESIDENCE REQUIREMENT
At the time you apply for citizenship you must meet the General residence requirement:
- 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
For children 16 or 17 years old, if meeting this requirement would cause significant hardship or disadvantage, you will need to provide proof.
Children under 16 do not need to meet the general residence requirement but must be permanent residents.
An eligible New Zealand citizen
You are an eligible New Zealand citizen if you arrive in Australia with a New Zealand passport and were:
- Here on 26 February 2001
- Here for 12 months in the 2 years before 26 February 2001
- Assessed as a protected Special Category visa (SCV) holder before 26 February 2004, or holding a Centrelink certificate issued before 26 February 2004 that states you were living here at a particular time
Unless you were granted another type of visa, you would have been automatically granted a temporary Special Category visa (subclass 444) when you presented your New Zealand passport at the Australian border. A SCV is not a permanent residence visa.
Once you meet the above requirements you need to prepare your documents and upload them, if applying online. All applicants who are required to sit the test will have an interview first. The citizenship test is part of the application process for most applicants for Australian citizenship by conferral. Applicants aged between 18 and 59 at the time of application have to sit the test.
On the day of the test, the staff member will verify your identity, verify the documents, conduct the interview, take a photograph and ask you to sit for the test. You will use a computer to take the test, and the result will show straight after completion. The test needs to be completed within 45 mins. If you pass the test, the processing will continue. The Department will write to you once the decision is made. If you fail the test you can appear again on the same day or re book the test for another date.
After your application is approved, you are required to attend a citizenship ceremony, you will receive a letter of invitation to attend the ceremony from either your local council or the Department. The citizenship ceremony is usually held within 6 months of passing the test.