Australian Citizenship

What are the benefits of citizenship?

Australian citizens have the right to live in Australia and travel in and out of the country without any restriction. They cannot be removed or deported from Australia. Citizens have some rights which permanent residents do not have, for example, the right to:

  • vote in government elections

  • apply for any public office or stand for election as a Member of Parliament

  • apply for an Australian passport

  • apply to serve in Australia’s defence forces

  • apply for certain government jobs

  • register children born overseas as Australian citizens

  • request emergency assistance from Australian consular staff if travelling outside Australia.

It is an important decision whether to be an Australian citizen. The disadvantages is dependent on the law of the country of a person’s other citizenship but could include loss of citizenship in their country of origin, restrictions on re-entry to that country, loss of pensions or benefits, imposition of an obligation to pay dual taxes and loss of property or inheritance rights.

How to become a citizen?

There are 4 main ways to obtain Australian citizenship. They are:

  1. Automatic citizenship

  2. Citizenship by application

  3. Citizenship by conferral

  4. Resumption of citizenship


The most common way to obtain citizenship is being born in Australia to at least one parent who is an Australian citizen or permanent resident. Other ways include:

  • adopted while in Australia by an Australian citizen parent

  • abandoned in Australia as a child

  • present in Australia in 1949

  • living in an incorporated territory

  • being born in Australia (after 20 August 1986 for New Zealanders) and ordinarily resident for 10 years

  • born in Australia as a result of artificial conception procedures or surrogacy arrangements under Australian law


Applications for citizenship by descent or conferral may include the following grounds:

  • permanent residents who have been in Australia for a certain period

  • persons born overseas to an Australian citizen parent

  • children adopted under Hague Convention

  • persons born to a former Australian citizen

  • persons born in Papua New Guinea

  • stateless people

  • applications may be made by former Australian citizens who want to regain their Australian citizenship

How can permanent residents apply for citizenship?

Permanent residents in Australia may apply for citizenship if they meet certain requirements. This is sometimes known as being ‘naturalised’. To become an Australian citizen, a permanent resident must:

(a) Have basic English and pass the citizenship test

(b) Maintain adequate knowledge of the responsibilities and rights of a citizen

(c) If approved, intend to life in Australia or to maintain close an continuing association with Australia

(d) Understand the nature of the application

(e) If approved, make a pledge of commitment within 12 months, unless under 16 years at time of application

(f) Meet residency requirements


Generally, the residency requirement states that an applicant must be in Australia in the four years immediately prior to the lodgement of a citizenship application and further, must not have been unlawful in that period. The applicant must also have been in Australian as a permanent resident in the 12 months before applying. If absences from Australia within the four years previous to application lodgement do not amount to more than 12 months, the law deems them to have been in Australia for that period. The law also deems compliance with residency requirements if absences within 12 months previous to the application lodgement do not exceed 90 days and the applicant was a permanent resident in each absence. Absences due to confinement in prison or a psychiatric institution will not satisfy these requirements.

Our Expertise

Applying for Australian citizenship is usually straightforward an easy. However, where complications arise, we specialise overcoming complex issues. These are examples of the type of complex citizenship cases we specialise in:

  • Seeking exemptions to the residence requirement. We are able to assist you with applying for citizenship, even if you have only resided in Australia for less than 4 years.

  • If a person has been unlawful, for example bridging visa lapsed, for an period they must wait a full 4 years from the date they became lawful again before they can apply for citizenship under these provisions, unless, they were an unlawful non-citizen because of an administrative error.

  • Applicant is not of good character at the time of decision

  • Issues with migration fraud

  • Minister not satisfied with identity of applicant

  • Citizenship application triggering cancellation of permanent visa for false and misleading information provided

  • Unreasonable delays in processing time

  • Adverse or qualified security assessment by ASIO in force in relation to the applicant

  • Stateless applicants born in Australia who are subject to legal issues

  • Children under 16 years with parents who are separated, with 1 parent residing in a different country