How do I become an Australian Citizen?
1 July 2007 saw the Commencement of the Australian Citizenship Act 2007.
As of 1 July 2007 to be eligible to become an Australian citizen the following must be met:
* be aged 18 years or over at the time the application is made
* be a permanent resident
* satisfy the residence requirement
* have a basic knowledge of the English language
* have an adequate knowledge of the privileges and responsibilities of Australian citizenship
* understand the nature of the application
* intend to reside, or to continue to reside, in Australia or to maintain a close and continuing association with Australia and
* be of good character.
The most common question asked about becoming an Australian citizen is “How long must I be resident in Australia for?”
People who became permanent residents on or after 1 July 2007 must have been lawfully resident in Australia for 4 years immediately before applying including:
* 12 months as a permanent resident and
* absences from Australia of no more than 12 months, including no more than 3 months in the 12 months before applying.
If people became permanent residents before 1 July 2007 and apply before 30 June 2010, they must have been physically present in Australia as a permanent resident for a total of 2 years in the 5 years before applying, including 1 year in the 2 years before applying.
Note: Periods of lawful residence cannot include a period of confinement in a prison or psychiatric institution by order of a court made in connection with proceedings for an offence against an Australian law except in limited circumstances.
Residence exemptions and discretions
People are exempt from the residence requirement if they:
* have served 3 months in the permanent forces of the Commonwealth
* have served 6 months in the navy, army or air force reserve
* were discharged from defence service as medically unfit for that service.
A partial exemption applies to former Australian citizens and people born in Australia. They need only have been resident in Australia for 12 months as a permanent resident.
There is a discretion for the residence requirement:
* periods during which a person was present in Australia as an unlawful non-citizen solely because of an administrative error may be treated as periods of lawful residence
* periods of lawful residence in Australia but not as a permanent resident solely because of an administrative error may be treated as periods of permanent residence
* periods of lawful residence in Australia but not as a permanent resident may be treated as a period of permanent residence if a person would otherwise suffer significant hardship or disadvantage
* periods spent outside Australia by the permanent resident spouse (including de facto spouse), widow or widower of an Australian citizen may be treated as periods in Australia, if they had close and continuing association with Australia during that period
* periods spent outside Australia by a permanent resident who is in a interdependent relationship with an Australian citizen may be treated as periods in Australia if they had close and continuing association with Australia during that period
* periods of confinement in a prison or psychiatric institution may be counted towards the residence requirement if it would be unreasonable not to do so, taking into account the circumstances which resulted in the person’s confinement.
For further detailed information on becoming an Australian citizen visit the Citizenship website: http://www.citizenship.gov.au/applying/application-process/index.htm