General Residence Requirement for Australian Citizenship and Exemptions

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General Residence Requirement for Australian Citizenship and Exemptions

Are you a permanent resident looking to obtain citizenship in Australia? One of the critical requirements to be eligible to be granted citizenship is that you are required to have had residence in Australia for a specified period of time.

General residence requirement

The criteria is as follows:

  • The applicant has been present in Australia for the period of at least 4 years before the date of lodging the application for citizenship (lawful residence date)
  • The applicant was not an unlawful non citizen in that period
  • The applicant has been a permanent resident for at least 12 months before the date of lodging the application for citizenship (permanent residence date)
  • Overseas absences in those periods are acceptable if other requirements are met

Overseas absences

If you have been overseas in that period, that’s okay as long as:

  • The total period of absence(s) in the previous 4 years before the date of application was not more than 12 months
  • The total period of absence(s) in the previous 12 months before the date of application was not more than 90 days and in those period(s) of absence, the applicant was a permanent resident of Australia

Definitely feel free to travel or visit home!

Exemptions

Oops. You’ve spent too much time outside of Australia or were not a permanent resident for a period. What now? There are a small number of exceptions to the above rule and they are granted through Ministerial Discretion:

  • administrative error
  • confinement in prison or psychiatric institution
  • person in Australia would suffer significant hardship or disadvantage
  • spouse, de facto partner or surviving spouse or defacto partner of Australian citizen
  • person in an interdependent relationship with an Australian Citizen

One of the interesting ones include where the applicant is the spouse, de facto partner or surviving spouse or de factor partner of an Australian citizen at the time of application. The person in an independent relationship has also similar requirements.

Periods spent outside of Australia may be exempted from being counted as an absence when:

  • The applicant spent those periods outside of Australia whilst as a spouse or de facto partner of an Australian citizen
  • The applicant was a permanent resident in that period
  • The applicant has had a close and continuing association with Australia during that period.

Close and continuing association with Australia

Factors that may contribute to a close and continuing association with Australia include:

  • Australian citizen spouse or de facto partner
  • Australian citizen children
  • Length of relationship with Australian citizen spouse, de facto or interdependent partner
  • Extended family in Australia
  • Return visits to Australia
  • Periods of residence in Australia
  • Intention to reside in Australia
  • Employment in Australia (for example, public or private sector)
  • Ownership of property in Australia and
  • Evidence of income tax payment in Australia

You must be able to provide a reasonable amount of evidence to support the above, and the more the better. It is a healthy habit to document what you can surrounding your life in Australia as you never know when such documentation may come in handy!

Evidence for some factors above such as ownership of property, return visits to Australia, employment and income tax as straightforward. When you are trying to evidence something that is less tangible such as relationships, you just have to get a little creative. Evidence could include:

  • Log of calls
  • Texts history
  • Emails
  • Photos
  • Relationship documents (marriage certificates)
  • Statutory declarations

The above list is far from exhaustive. The relationship(s) need to be ongoing, so the above should show that the relationship(s) has existed over time, and still exists.

Bear in mind that the association must also be one that is close and continuing, and so evidence needs to demonstrate that that exists in as many of the above factors as possible. For example, showing return visits to Australia a few years back would be be taken as ‘continuing’.

Surviving spouse or de facto partner

A surviving spouse or de facto partner of a person who has died means a person who was the person’s spouse or de facto partner immediately before the person died and who has not later become the spouse or de facto partner of another person.

Are you ready to take the final step and become an Australia citizen? Are you not quite there yet and need help with gaining permanent residency in Australia? We can help. Australian Immigration Law Services has looked after many clients over the years from their entry into Australia all through to their gaining citizenship. Call +61 2 8054 2537, 0434 890 199 or book online today to speak to our migration specialists.

Zoe He