Australian citizenship was introduced in 1949, and remarkably, over 4 million migrants have acquired it. Around 95% of current residents have citizenship.
The number of migrants arriving in Australia each year is on the rise, and is currently around 170,000. The 2011 Census showed that a little more than one in four of Australia’s 22 million people was born overseas; the UK resident population of Australia is roughly 5.55%, New Zealand has 2.53%, China and India are around the 1.65% mark, while South Africa is thought to represent 0.72%.
Depending on your route into Australia, acquiring citizenship usually takes a minimum of four years.
Becoming an Australian citizen entitles you to have:
- The right to apply for an Australian passport;
- The right to vote in Federal, State and Local government elections (mandatory);
- The right to participate in specific visa programmes with other countries;
- 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 children acquire Australian citizenship;
- The right to Australian diplomatic or consular protection when overseas;
- The right to have dual or multiple citizenships.
Becoming an Australian citizen not only depends on the length of time you have spent in Australia and the visa subclass on which you have been resident, but also on your birthplace, nationality, birth parents, and spouse/de facto partner being Australian. There are two routes to becoming an Australian citizen: general (tested) or other (non-tested) conferral.
You will become eligible to apply for Australian citizenship when:
- you have been resident in Australia on a valid visa (had an underlying resident visa ie. not a tourist visa or the like) for 4 years or longer;
- you must NOT have been absent from Australia for more than 12 months in total in that 4 year period;
- you must have been resident in Australia for 12 months prior to your application for citizenship;
- you must NOT have been absent for more than 90 days in the 12 months prior to your application for citizenship.
Exceptions to these criterion are those who have served in the army, navy or air force (exemptions may apply, as determined by the Australian government), and those who have been detained in prison or a psychiatric institution (requirements might not be met).
Finally, you must also prove that you are of good character, and pass a Citizenship Test, which focuses on Australia’s democratic laws and government, way of life in Australia, as well as the responsibilities, pledges of commitment and privileges of acquiring Australian citizenship. The test is in English only, consists of 20 multiple-choice questions, you have 45 minutes to complete it, and the pass mark is 75%. A book, “Australian Citizenship: Our Common Bond”, has been published by the Australian government to assist those with preparing for the test. It has been translated into 37 languages and is also available in DVD format.
You are not required to sit a Citizenship Test if:
- you are aged under 18 years;
- you are aged 60 years or over OR suffering from a permanent or substantial loss of hearing, speech or sight;
- you have a permanent physical or mental incapacity to understand the nature of the test;
- you were born to a former Australian citizen overseas;
- you were born in Papua New Guinea before 16 September 1975 and at the time, had an Australian-born parent.
Other Australian visa types:
Australian Skilled Migration Visas
Australian Business Visas
Australian Employer-sponsored Visas
Australian Investor Retirement Visa
Australian Student Visas
Australian Family and Spouse Visa
Australian Resident Return Visa
Australian Working Holiday Visa
Australian Travel Visa