23 January 2009
Australia celebrates 60 years of citizenship
At this year's Australia Day, January 26, the nation will be celebrating 60 years of Australian citizenship.
Starting with meek beginnings, the government instated a mere seven immigrants to Australian citizenship on February 3, 1949 (one for each of the states and ACT). During that year, a further 2,500 Australian immigrants from over 35 countries were naturalised.
To say the very least, Australian citizenship has expanded considerably since its humble beginnings. During 2007-08, over 120,000 people became Australian citizens, making 95 per cent of the population citizens of the country. Since the introduction of Australian citizenship in 1949, over 4 million migrants have become Australian citizens and a further 900,000 permanent residents could become citizens if they wish.
The majority of people who move to Australia have come from the United Kingdom, India, China, New Zealand and South Africa.
Becoming an Australian citizen will give you:
• the right to vote,
• the right to apply for an Australian passport,
• the right to enter Australia without a visa for Australia (provided you have your Australian passport on you),
• the right to participate in specific visa programmes with countries around the world,
• the right to stand for election in Australian governments,
• the right to work for the public service,
• the right to serve Australia in the army, navy and air force,
• the right to have your overseas-born children registered as Australian citizens,
• the opportunity to have children born as Australian citizens if born on-shore,
• the right to Australian diplomatic or consular protection when overseas,
• exemption from being deported from Australia unless you obtained your citizenship by illegal means,
• in some cases multiple citizenships, and
• the opportunity to become absolutely a part of the Australian community.
When an Australian visa holder has been lawfully resident for four years or longer, they may be eligible to become an Australian citizen. They must have remained in Australia for the twelve months prior to application as a permanent resident, and had no periods outside of Australia for longer than 12 months during those four years, including no absences of three months or more in the 12 months prior to application.
If the applicant has been confined in prison or a psychiatric institution for any period during their time of residence, they may not meet the residence requirements. Some residents may be exempt from the residence requirements as determined by the government, such as those who serve in the Australian army, navy or air force. The Government provides a Residence Requirements Calculator to help determine eligibility for Australian citizenship.
Applicants must also prove that they are of good character.
The government will be holding events throughout the year to celebrate Australian citizenship.
The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with emigrating to Australia.