How to Apply for Australian Citizenship

With all the political upheavals in the world, along with various economic sanctions amongst countries, many people are finding the idea of obtaining citizenship in a different country can be enticing. Australia is certainly one of the more appealing countries, especially for anyone who speaks English either as their native tongue or else is already fluent in English as a second language.

Australia is one of the safest countries in the world. It is also a hub of information technology. People from all over the world are now moving to Australia as it provides exciting benefits to its citizens and to the people who have immigrated recently.

Citizenship by Descent

The easiest method of obtaining Australian citizenship will happen to those who have at least one Australian parent. It will not apply to anyone with Australian grandparents. Although this will appeal to a small number of people, the process is simple. A person born outside Australia to an Australian citizen parent can acquire Australian citizenship in the following ways:

  • British subjects born outside Australia before 26 January 1949 with an Australian father became Australian citizens automatically upon entering Australia with a permanent visa (up to 30 April 1987). According to Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_nationality_law#Children_of_former_Australian_citizens:
  • A person born outside Australia or New Guinea before 26 January 1949 may be registered as an Australian citizen provided –
  • that person has a parent born or naturalised in Australia or New Guinea, and
  • the parent became an Australian citizen on 26 January 1949.
  • A person born outside Australia on or after 26 January 1949 may be registered as an Australian citizen by descent provided –
  • they had an Australian citizen parent at the time of birth and
  • If the Australian parent acquired Australian citizenship by descent, that parent must have been lawfully present in Australia for a period or periods totalling at least 2 years at some time in their life.

Australian citizenship by descent is not conferred at birth, and a child born outside Australia to an Australian parent must apply for citizenship. If aged 18 or over, an applicant for Australian citizenship by descent must be of good character.

Australian citizenship for the rest of us

For those of us who do not have at least one Australian parent, the process is longer but not difficult. The Australian Citizenship Act of 1973 has many details but the most common path to citizenship requires the individual(s) reside in Australia for a minimum four years before applying for citizenship by conferral. The “lawfully resident” test could be satisfied by any period of lawful stay in Australia including a stay on a temporary or bridging visa, but the applicant must:

  • have been in Australia for 12 months as a permanent resident,
  • have had absences from Australia of no more than twelve months (total) in the previous four years, including no more than three months (total) in the 12 months before applying,
  • have not been in Australia at any time without a valid visa in the four years preceding application,
  • understand the responsibilities and privileges of Australian citizenship (except for applicants aged 60 or over),
  • be able to speak and understand basic English (except for applicants aged 60 or over),
    understand the nature of the application, and
  • intend to reside in Australia or to maintain a close and continuing association with Australia.

The complete Australian Citizenship Act of 1973 has many exceptions for citizens of former British colonies, anyone who served in the armed forces of an enemy country, Australian citizens connected with Burma, citizenship by adoption, New Zealand citizens, anyone with a UK-born grandparent, and others. If one of these “special exceptions” apply to you, perhaps it is best if you hire an Australian attorney who specializes in immigration and citizenship issues.

You can find more information at:

Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_nationality_law

Australian Citizenship Act 2007 at http://www6.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdb/au/legis/cth/consol_act/aca2007254/

Australian Citizenship published by the Australian government’s Ministry of Home Affairs at https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/?tilegroup=Australian%20citizenship

A quick search on any internet search engine will find many more links although several of them are simply “advisory services” that want to charge a significant fee. In contrast, the above are highly regarded publications that do not charge fees for the information.

5 Comments

Unfortunately our adopted children (1 who we adopted at 3 days old, the other at 2 months old) cannot become Australian citizens ( I am Australian by birth, now living in the USA)

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Isn’t there a written citizenship test as well?

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Paula Schlichting Cox July 16, 2020 at 12:46 pm

In the mid 1960’s, husband, two young children & I, considered moving to Australia. He’d been there on US Navy sub & later deep sea fishing (both sides of AU). Really liked it. At that time, had to have certain amount of $, speak English & have a promised job. (Possibly other things as well.) We were offered jobs (that took abt 3 months) – me as teacher, he as “panel beater in smash shop” (autobody repair man) Discussed it with parents & because of costs to move home good/cars, etc. or returning to US if necessary, did not move. NOTE: It’s a very long airplane ride from FL to AU. Have some regrets in part. Do have friend (from US fishing) who lives “underground” near opal mines (N. AU) Also high school friend who married & became AU citizen abt 1970.

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Please add Tasmania to your map of Australia.

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    I noticed that as well Bruce. Tasmanian’s are nearly alway forgotten. However it a beautiful place to live and visit.

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