Applying for Citizenship

You’ve called Australia home for so long now, it’s time to make it official. So let’s take you through what it takes to get you to the citizenship ceremony.

Applying as a migrant with permanent residence means that numero uno on the list of eligibility factors is being a permanent resident. Thankfully, it’s not the longest list.

  • Meet residence requirements
  • Be of good character
  • Intend to reside or maintain a close and continuing association with Australia
  • Have an adequate knowledge of the responsibilities and privileges of Australian citizenship

Children under 16 who also hold permanent residency can be included in your application and will not need to meet residence requirements. Children aged 16 and 17 who are permanent residents, will need to submit a separate application. They are however exempt from taking the citizenship test, which we will expound on later in the article. Read more about citizenship applications for children aged 16 and 17 here.


Residence requirements

You must have lived in Australia in the four years before your application date. You only need to have been a permanent resident for a year before your application date. In the four years of residence here, you cannot have been outside of Australia (even for holidays!) for more than 12 months in total. This means every trip out accumulates and counts towards your time outside of Australia. One last thing, you cannot have have spent more than 90 days outside of Australia in the 12 months before your citizenship application date. You can find the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s (DIBP’s) residence calculator here.

If you were granted your permanent residency before you arrived in Australia, your permanent residency will be counted from the day you arrived in Australia. If you have been living in Australia before, your permanent residency will be counted from your PR visa grant date.

For the time you have spent in Australia to be counted you must have been a lawful resident. If you were to have spent time in prison or a psychiatric institution by order of a court due to an offence committed against Australian law, then the time you have spent confined cannot be counted towards lawful residence.

Interestingly, if you have spent time outside Australia:

  1. whilst maintaining close and continuing association with Australia,
  2. was a permanent resident in that period
  3. and in that period, were with a partner (spouse, de facto partner, or surviving spouse of de facto partner) or was in an interdependent relationship with someone who is an Australian citizen,

that time may be counted as time in Australia.

There are a few variations and exemptions to the residence requirement which you can learn more about here.


Good character

You will need to provide police clearance certificates from every country in which you have spent more than 90 days away from Australia, from the time you were granted permanent residency. You will not need to apply for clearance in Australia.


Making your application

You’ve met the requirements and it’s time to apply. You can submit your application online or by paper. If you are applying for any exemptions, you must submit a paper application. You will need certified copies of:

  • Identity documents*: 3 identity documents. Altogether these 3 documents must show a photograph, a signature, your current residential address, your birth name, date of birth and gender. If your name has changed, you will need to provide evidence surrounding this and material(s) explaining the change in name.
  • Good character documents: As above

To apply or learn more about making your application, visit this link.


Citizenship appointment

After you have made your application, you will be invited (by letter) to either a citizenship test or interview. This test will assess if you have a basic English language standard, adequate knowledge of Australia and the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship and your understanding of your undertaking a such an application. You are exempt from this test if you are under 18 or above 60. There are other situations in which you may not be required to sit the test. Please visit this link to learn more.  If you are not sitting the citizenship test, you may sit a citizenship interview. The interview carries out the same function as the test and is basically a muted version of the test.


Citizenship ceremony

You’ve made it! If your application is approved and you’ve passed your citizenship test, you will need to attend a citizenship ceremony to formalise your citizenship. Not attending the ceremony could result in your citizenship being cancelled. Exemptions exist for:

  • Those who have permanent or enduring physical or mental capacity
  • Those who were born to a former Australian citizen
  • Those who were born in Papua
  • Those who were stateless when born in Australia

You will need to attend your citizenship ceremony within 12 months of the approval of your application. Your local council will organise your ceremony, usually within 6 months from the time your application is approved. Other than your attendance, you must bring along both your invitation and photographic identification.

You’re allowed to bring along your loved ones to celebrate this very special occasion with you! During the ceremony you will be required to make an Australian Citizenship Pledge. After you have made your pledge you will receive a citizenship certificate (which you will need to apply for an Australian passport). Congratulations! You’re Australian!