How to get Australian citizenship

How to get Australian citizenship

There are many benefits of Australian citizenship, including having the right to vote and access social welfare. The main advantage, though, is feeling settled in your home away from home. So whether you’re marrying an Australian or upgrading your current visa, keep reading to discover how to get Australian citizenship, including application costs and requirements.  

Becoming an Australian citizen

Australian citizenship means more than just a sense of belonging. It also brings with it many advantages, rights and responsibilities. Although you can become a citizen in various ways, the most popular methods include through:

  • Marriage.
  • Descent.
  • Permanent residence.

Initially, however, you’ll need to see if you meet the criteria set by the Department of Home Affairs. Then, for every route to citizenship, you’ll have to show that you’re of “good character”. Essentially, that means having no criminal record in any country you’ve lived in. 

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Becoming an Australian citizen through marriage

Suppose you get married to an Australian. First of all, congratulations. Although your spouse is a citizen, there’s no ‘spousal visa’. Instead, you can apply for citizenship the same way a permanent resident would. The only difference is that you’ll need additional documents that prove the citizenship of your spouse.

The only real advantage you have over a ‘regular’ permanent resident is your marriage. Having an Australian partner is a great way to prove your lasting link with the country and boost your application’s chances. 

Getting Australian citizenship by descent

You could take the descent route if one of your parents was an Australian citizen when you were born. You can still apply even if that parent has since changed their nationality. 

Again, you can apply through descent the same way you would if you were a permanent resident. In this case, however, you’d need additional documents that prove the citizenship of your Australian parent.

Apply for Australian citizenship if you’re a permanent resident 

If you have a specific type of Australian work visa or permanent residency, you’re in pole position. That’s because both “permits” gives you the right to: 

  • Live in Australia indefinitely.
  • Receive higher education loans.
  • Access to Medicare, Australia’s healthcare system.
  • Access to Centrelink, Australia’s welfare system.
  • Get a First Home Owner Grant of 10,000 AUD.

The ultimate benefit is the right to apply for Australian citizenship after a year. Once you’re a citizen, you open up a new world of advantages, including:  

  • The right to work in the Australian Public Service. 
  • The right to vote and to be elected to parliament. 
  • Getting an Australian passport. 

To be eligible for citizenship through permanent residency, you’ll need to meet certain requirements. At different stages of your application, you’ll need to prove that you’re:

  • A permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen when you apply*.
  • In Australia when a decision is made.
  • Knowledgeable about Australia and have spent time in the country.
  • Intending to live in Australia or maintain a lasting link with the country while overseas.

*You’ll also need to retain either status on the date your application decision is made. 

In addition, you’ll need to create an ImmiAccount on the Department of Home Affairs website. 

How much does it cost to apply for Australian citizenship?

Applying for Australian citizenship costs between 40 and 285 AUD. In some instances, the application fee might be waived. How much you pay depends on:

  • The nature of your eligibility.
  • Whether you’re applying online or by post.
  • Where you’re applying from, i.e. inside Australia or overseas.
  • How you’re paying.

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What documents do I need to apply for Australian citizenship?

You’ll need to submit a range of documents to prove that you are who you say you are (identity documents). You’ll also need to include a certificate that states that you don’t have a criminal record (good character documents). 

For identity documents, you’ll need:

1. Any three original documents that all show your photograph and signature

from: 

  • An Australian driver licence.
  • A passport.
  • A UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) document. 
  • A national identity card.
  • Document for travel to Australia (DFTTA) card.
  • Other documents containing a signature and photograph, e.g. a military identity document or student card.

2. Any three original documents that all show your current residential address

from: 

  • A utility bill, e.g. electricity, gas or water bill, bank notice.
  • Rental or mortgage contracts.

3. Three original documents that all show your birth name, date of birth and gender from:

  • A full birth certificate. 
  • Evidence of links between your present and previous names, for example, a marriage or divorce certificate. 
  • A certificate issued by any Australian registry of births, deaths and marriages as evidence of other name changes.

You’ll also need to provide an identity declaration. This needs to be completed by an Australian citizen who: 

  • Has known you for at least a year.
  • Belongs to a certain profession
  • Isn’t related to you by birth, marriage or de facto relationship.
  • Is contactable by telephone during normal working hours. 

If you’re outside Australia, it can be filled by a citizen of your country of residence who meets the above criteria.

You may need to submit a police clearance certificate from your country (or former countries) of residence. Forming part of your ‘good character documents’, the certificate(s) detail whether or not you have a criminal record. 

How long does the application take?

Citizenship applications are processed on a case-by-case basis. Consequently, the timeframes can vary because of individual circumstances. However, as a rough guide, 90 per cent of permanent resident applications take 15 months. In contrast, the same percentage of applications via descent takes around half that time. 

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