Australian Citizenship

Why is Australian citizenship important?

Since the introduction of Australian citizenship in 1949, over 4 million migrants have become Australian citizens.  Today, around 95 per cent of the country's population hold citizenship and a further 900,000 permanent residents could become citizens if they wish.

Becoming an Australian citizen may take some years if you are in the process of emigrating to Australia, but, the journey is well worth the effort.

Gaining Australian citizenship gives 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.


How can you start on the pathway to Australian citizenship?

There are several circumstances that affect how a person can become an Australian citizen:  

  • Birthplace and nationality;
  • Birth parents;
  • Spouse/de facto being an Australian citizen; AND
  • Emigrating to Australia.

Australian migrants have two options for their pathway to Australian citizenship:

  • Conferral - General eligibility; AND
  • Conferral - Other situations.

Conferral - General Eligibility (tested)

When you have been lawfully resident for four years or longer, you may be eligible to become an Australian citizen. You 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 you are confined in prison or a psychiatric institution for any period during your time of residence in Australia, you 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 you determine your eligibility for Australian citizenship. 

You must also prove that you are of good character, and pass a Citizenship Test to have your citizenship application granted.

Citizenship Test

The citizenship test focuses on the pledge of commitment that new Australians make when becoming citizens, Australia’s democratic laws and government as well as the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship.

The Australian Citizenship Test contains 20 multiple-choice questions and will take up to 45 minutes to complete. To pass and become an Australian citizen an applicant must achieve at least 75 per cent.

The test is also designed to assess whether applicants have a basic knowledge of the English language and will be conducted in English only.

A resource book, Australian Citizenship: Our Common Bond, has been produced by the Australian Government to give more information about the test, and it has been translated into 37 community languages to assist people to study.

An audio-DVD is also available to assist people with low literacy levels. 

Conferral - Other situations (non-test)

The following Australian migrants are not required to sit the Citizenship Test:

  • People aged under 18 years;
  • People aged 60 years or over OR suffering from a permanent or substantial loss of hearing, speech or sight;
  • People who have a permanent physical or mental incapacity to understand the nature of the test;
  • People born to a former Australian citizen overseas; OR
  • People born in Papua before 16 September 1975 and at the time had an Australian-born parent.


Your responsibilities as an Australian citizen

As an Australian citizen, you will be required to vote in the Federal, State and Local government elections, and if asked, serve on a jury in the courts.

You may also be required to denounce your citizenship from your country of origin.  While this is not a policy of Australian citizenship law to require you to do so, your home country may hold this law, and you should therefore consider this before becoming an Australian citizen.

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