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Obtaining Australian citizenship leads to a number of unique benefits and obligations.

Read our general information and document checklists in relation to Australian citizenship below. Contact us directly for specific advice.
Overview

Australian Citizenship

Becoming a citizen of Australia is the final legal step in your migration story. It is a process in which a non-Australian citizen voluntarily becomes an Australian citizen. Australian citizens pledge their loyalty to Australia and its people and are then entitled to its protection and to exercise their rights and responsibilities as citizens. You can become a citizen of Australia in different ways with each pathway having a distinct set of eligibility. Conferral and descent are the most common ways to apply.

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Responsibilities of citizenship
  • Behave in accordance with Australian democratic beliefs
  • Respect the rights and liberties of Australia
  • Follow and obey the law
  • Vote in federal and state or territory elections, and in referenda
  • Defend Australia if necessary
  • Serve on jury duty
Citizenship entitlements
  • Apply for an Australian passport
  • Leave and re-enter Australia as many times as you want
  • Ask for help from an Australian consulate if in trouble overseas
  • Vote in federal, state or territory elections
  • Vote in a Constitutional referendum or plebiscite
  • Seek election to parliament, if you are aged 18 years or over and are not dual citizen
  • Register the birth of your children in another country as an Australian citizen
Freedoms for citizens
  • Freedom of speech and freedom of expression
  • Freedom of association
  • Freedom of religion and secular government
  • Equality in Australia
  • Equality of men and women
Eligibility

Conferral (PR or NZ citizens)

Becoming a citizen by conferral is a common way to become an Australian citizen. You need to be a permanent resident and meet certain criteria before you can apply. A general review of the eligibility is included on this page. For further information, speak directly to your Hannan Tew adviser.

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Standard eligibility
  • be a permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen when you apply and when the Department decides on the application
  • pass the residence requirement
  • pass the character requirement
  • be in Australia when the Department decides on the application in most cases
  • have spent time in Australia and be able to pass a citizenship test
  • intend to live in Australia or maintain a lasting link with Australia while overseas
What is the general residence requirement
  • at the time you apply you must have been (1) living in Australia on a valid visa for the past 4 years (2) a permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen for the past 12 months  and (3)  away from Australia for no more than 12 months in total in the past 4 years, including no more than 90 days in total in the past 12 months
  • for children 16 or 17 years old, if meeting this requirement would cause significant hardship or disadvantage, you will need to provide proof
  • children under 16 do not need to meet the general residence requirement but must be permanent residents
Exemptions to the general residence requirement
  • if you are under 16 years
  • if you were born to a former Australian citizen who lost their citizenship before 4 April 2002
  • if you were born in Papua before 16 September 1975 and one of your parents was born in Australia and was an Australian citizen when you were born
  • you or or your family may be exempt if you are a member of the Australian Defence Force
  • if you meet Special residence requirements including:
    • if you engage in activities supported by particular organisation such as sporting committees or agencies
    • if you engage in particular types of work which requires overseas travel
  •  if you meet Ministerial discretion requirements the Minister may treat the following periods as lawful residence
    • If you were in Australia unlawfully as the result of an administrative error
    • If you were in Australia lawfully, but not as a permanent resident as the result of an administrative error
    • If you were in Australia lawfully, but not as a permanent resident, and not treating it as a period of permanent residence would cause you to suffer significant hardship or disadvantage
    • If you were in prison or a psychiatric institution, then that period may be counted towards the residence requirement (and not treating it as a period of permanent residence would be unreasonable, taking into account the circumstances that led to your confinement)If you have spent time outside Australia as a permanent resident with your Australian citizen spouse or partner.
      If you are the surviving spouse or partner of an Australian citizen and have a close and continuing association with Australia.
      If you spent time outside Australia and are a permanent resident in an interdependent relationship with an Australian citizen and you have had a close and continuing association with Australia
Eligibility

Conferral (over 60)

Becoming a citizen by conferral is a common way to become an Australian citizen. You need to be a permanent resident and meet certain criteria before you can apply. A general review of the eligibility is included on this page. For further information, speak directly to your Hannan Tew adviser.

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Standard eligibility
  • be a permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen when you apply and when the Department decides on the application
  • pass the residence requirement
  • pass the character requirement
  • be in Australia when the Department decides on the application in most cases
  • be at least 60 years old (and not need to pass the citizenship test)
  • intend to live in Australia or maintain a lasting link with Australia while overseas
What is the general residence requirement
  • at the time you apply you must have been (1) living in Australia on a valid visa for the past 4 years (2) a permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen for the past 12 months  and (3)  away from Australia for no more than 12 months in total in the past 4 years, including no more than 90 days in total in the past 12 months
  • for children 16 or 17 years old, if meeting this requirement would cause significant hardship or disadvantage, you will need to provide proof
  • children under 16 do not need to meet the general residence requirement but must be permanent residents
Exemptions to the general residence requirement
  • if you are under 16 years
  • if you were born to a former Australian citizen who lost their citizenship before 4 April 2002
  • if you were born in Papua before 16 September 1975 and one of your parents was born in Australia and was an Australian citizen when you were born
  • you or or your family may be exempt if you are a member of the Australian Defence Force
  • if you meet Special residence requirements including:
    • if you engage in activities supported by particular organisation such as sporting committees or agencies
    • if you engage in particular types of work which requires overseas travel
  •  if you meet Ministerial discretion requirements the Minister may treat the following periods as lawful residence
    • If you were in Australia unlawfully as the result of an administrative error
    • If you were in Australia lawfully, but not as a permanent resident as the result of an administrative error
    • If you were in Australia lawfully, but not as a permanent resident, and not treating it as a period of permanent residence would cause you to suffer significant hardship or disadvantage
    • If you were in prison or a psychiatric institution, then that period may be counted towards the residence requirement (and not treating it as a period of permanent residence would be unreasonable, taking into account the circumstances that led to your confinement)If you have spent time outside Australia as a permanent resident with your Australian citizen spouse or partner.
      If you are the surviving spouse or partner of an Australian citizen and have a close and continuing association with Australia.
      If you spent time outside Australia and are a permanent resident in an interdependent relationship with an Australian citizen and you have had a close and continuing association with Australia
Eligibility

Descent

You could be eligible for Australian citizenship by descent if you were born outside Australia and one (or both) of your parents at the time of your birth was also an Australian citizen at that time. A general review of the eligibility is included on this page. For further information, speak directly to your Hannan Tew adviser.

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Persons born outside of Australia on or after 26 January 1949
  • you must be born outside of Australia and one or both of your parents at the time of your birth, must also have been an Australian citizen
  • your parent will need to have spent at least a cumulative period of 2 years lawfully in Australia before you apply if they became an Australian citizen by descent or adoption outside the  Hague Convention or a bilateral arrangement
Persons born outside of Australia before 26 January 1949
  • you may be eligible if you were born outside Australia before 26 January 1949 and one or both of your parents at the time of your birth became Australian citizen on 26 January 1949 by 
    • birth in Australia
    • birth in New Guinea
    • being naturalised as a British subject in Australia
Eligibility

Other streams

There are a number of other streams which can be applied for by conferral, adoption or resumption of citizenship. A general review of the eligibility is included on this page. For further information, speak directly to your Hannan Tew adviser.

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Conferral (child 15 years or younger applying on their own)
  • be 15 years or younger, applying on your own and
    • living with a responsible parent who is an Australian citizen and consents to your application or
    • you are usually resident in Australia with a responsible parent who consents to your application, who is a permanent resident and they meet the residence requirement but has decided not to apply for Australian citizenship because they would lose the citizenship of another country or
    • living with a responsible parent who consents to your application and your responsible parent is not an Australian citizen but you can show us that not becoming a citizen would make you suffer significant hardship or be disadvantaged
  • be a permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen at the time you apply and when the Department decides the application
Conferral (born to a former Australian citizen)
  • provide evidence of your birth to a former Australian citizen and pass the character test
Conferral (Person born in Papua before independence in 1975)
  • provide evidence of your birth in Papua before 16 September 1975
  • provide evidence that one of your parents were born in Australia as it is now known, and was an Australian citizen at the time of your birth
  • pass the character test
Conferral (born in Australia and stateless)
  • have been born in Australia
  • not be a national or citizen of any country
  • never have been a national or citizen of any country
  • not be entitled to acquire the nationality or citizenship of a foreign country
Adoption (child adopted outside of Australia by an Australian citizen)
  • have a valid adoption compliance certificate for adoption under the Hague Convention or a bilateral arrangement
  • have an Australian citizen parent
  • have an adoptive parent apply on your behalf if you are 15 years or younger
Resumption of citizenship
  • satisfy the Department of your identity and if you are over 18 years old, of your good character
  • provide evidence of how you ceased being an Australian citizen
  • if you are not eligible to resume your Australian citizenship, you may still be eligible to apply for Australian citizenship by conferral
Documents

General Documents

The actual documents you require are dependent on your particular circumstances including (but not limited to) your family members, your and character, your identity and any exemptions or concessions you may apply for. Your Hannan Tew advisor will provide you with a link to the Hannan Tew portal which will set out the specific documents required.

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Identity, health and character
  • Three documents that together will show evidence of your:
    • birth name, date of birth and gender
    • photograph
    • signature
    • current residential address
  • evidence of any change in name
Family relationships
  • Passport bio data page for each family member
  • Full quality passport sized photograph of each family member
  • Birth certificate for each family member (translated)
  • If in a married relationship, a copy of your marriage certificate (translated)
  • If in de facto relationship, evidence of at least 6 months of (i) shared finances (bank / credit card statements) (ii)living together (lease,
    correspondence at same address) and (iii) social (messages to each
    other)
Good character documents
  • Police clearance certificates from any country in which you have lived for 12 months or more in the last 10 years
Citizenship

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I provide photocopies of my documents instead of originals?

Simple photocopies of your documents are not sufficient for the purposes of lodging your citizenship application. Please make sure that you provide properly certified copies (unless you are advised that you must provide the original of any particular document).

How do i complete Form 1195 - Identity Declaration?

If your application is lodged online, Form 1195 – Identity Declaration must be completed by you, along with a suitably authorised person, as confirmation of your identity. Please read the form carefully, and ensure that you complete the relevant sections and sign the form as indicated.

The completed declaration must then be completed and signed by an authorised person. This person must:

  • be an Australian citizen
  • have known you for at least one year
  • not be related to you by birth, marriage or a de facto relationship
  • be working in an occupation or profession that is authorised for this purpose (a full list of acceptable professions/occupations is supplied on Form 1195)

As part of the Identity Declaration, you must also provide a recent passport-sized photograph. This must be 45mm x 35mm, of your head and shoulders only against a plain background, facing the camera. It must have been taken during the last 6 months. The back of the photo must be endorsed by the authorised person. Please see Form 1195 for further details.

Note: For children under the age of 6, the authorised person may have known the child for less than one year. However, they must still meet the other criteria listed above. Additionally, if you are applying from overseas and do not know any Australian citizens who meet the other criteria, the declaration may be completed by a non-Australian citizen. Please contact us for further information.

Do I really need to provide police clearances?

If during the period of time since you were granted an Australian permanent visa:

  • you have lived or travelled outside Australia (after you turned 18 years old) and
  •  the total time you spent overseas amounts to at least 12 months

You will need to provide a police clearance certificate for each country in which you spent more than 90 days during that time. Please note that you must provide the original police clearances, not certified copies. Please contact us if you are unsure whether or not you need to provide a police clearance.

You are not required to provide an Australian police clearance, as this will be obtained by the Department in the course of processing your application.

What are my entitlements after obtaining Australian citizenship?

As an Australian citizen, you are eligible for certain entitlements. You can:

  1. apply for an Australian passport
  2. leave and re-enter Australia as many times as you want
  3. ask for help from an Australian consulate if in trouble overseas
  4. vote in federal, state or territory elections
  5. vote in a Constitutional referendum or plebiscite
  6. seek election to parliament, if you are aged 18 years or over and are not dual citizen
  7. register the birth of your children in another country as an Australian citizen

What are my responsibilities after obtaining Australian citizenship?

As an Australian citizen, you have new responsibilities to:

  • behave in accordance with Australia’s democratic beliefs
  • respects the rights and liberties of Australia
  • follow and obey the law
  • vote in federal and state or territory elections, and in referenda
  • defend Australia if necessary
  • serve on jury duty if summoned

Does Australia permit dual citizenship or nationality?

Australian citizens may become a dual national:

  • if a parent is a citizen of another country
  • through marriage to a citizen of another country
  • if a permanent resident becomes an Australian citizen and keeps their previous citizenship
  • if an Australian citizen becomes a citizen of another country and keeps their Australian citizenship
  • if a child is born overseas and a parent is an Australian citizen (the child may become a citizen of that country by birth)

However, not all other countries allow dual citizenship. If you think you might be a dual citizen, check with the other country’s embassy or consulate.

Disclaimer

The information contained here is offered for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or give rise to an attorney-client relationship between you and our firm. The information: (i) must be regarded as a practical guide for general information and not a process guide for determining the specific immigration requirements of the countries covered, (ii) should not be a substitute for a more indepth analysis of applicable facts and circumstances conducted by competent professionals, and (iii) does not represent an opinion from Hannan Tew or any of its agents with regard to the laws of any of the jurisdictions concerned. The information does not guarantee the outcome or approval of any particular immigration application.

What can we do for you?

With extensive experience representing individuals from all nationalities, our staff are well placed to assist with all issues in relation to the citizenship application process, including character issues and ministerial discretion.

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