Australian citizenship by conferral is a process through which a non-Australian can become an Australian citizen by meeting specific requirements provided by law. Citizenship by conferral involves the process through which a non-Australian citizen voluntarily becomes an Australian citizen.
To obtain Australian citizenship by conferral, you would need to be a permanent resident and meet specific eligibility requirements. The Australian Citizenship Act 2007 governs the rules for Australian citizenship by conferral. This article discusses Australian citizenship by conferral.
Australian Citizenship by Conferral Requirements
Generally, to become an Australian citizen by conferral, the applicant would have to:
- Be 18 years’ old or above,
- Be a permanent resident of Australia,
- Pass the identity requirement,
- Understand basic English and knowledge of Australia,
- Pass the citizenship test, and
- Pass the character requirements.
An Australian permanent resident can apply for Australian citizenship by conferral after 4 years. At the time of the application, the applicant must have been:
- living in Australia on a valid visa for the past 4 years,
- a permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen for the past 12 months, and
- 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.
One must keep in mind that the residency requirement requires that the applicant must have lived in Australia lawfully, or a valid visa. Thus, if you have had a visa cancelled or expired, the 4-year period count would start again.
In addition, the applicant must show that they genuinely want to make Australia their home and continue to build a life in the country. This is proved by showing a close and continuing link to Australia, such as:
- having a child who is an Australian citizen,
- having a partner who is an Australian citizen,
- having an extended family in Australia,
- time spent in Australia,
- a bank account in Australia, and
- a job in Australia.
To be granted Australian citizenship, the Department of Home Affairs (the Department or DHA) must be satisfied with your identity.
The law provides that an application for Australian citizenship cannot be approved where a person’s identity cannot be verified. Documents proving your identity include a passport, national identity card, birth certificate, military service papers, driver’s licence, marriage certificate, utility (household) bills, family photos, employment records or education records.
Read more on the identity requirement for Australian citizenship here.
The character requirement means that you must have “good character” and not hold a criminal record. The Department will assess whether you are likely to uphold and obey the laws of Australia.
The Department often assumes “good character” in the absence of criminal convictions or evidence of past misbehaviour. Factors that will be considered for the character requirement include:
- any recorded criminal convictions,
- obligations you may have to a court in Australia or overseas,
- incidents of reported domestic violence, and
- whether you have been honest in your dealings with the Australian community, including providing false or misleading information in relation to a visa or citizenship application.
English is the national language of Australia. In order to be eligible for citizenship by conferral, applicants must prove that they have competent English. The Department accepts scores from the following English tests:
- International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic or General Training)
- Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic)
- Occupational English Test (OET)
- Test of English as a Foreign Language internet-based Test (TOEFL iBT)
This requirement means that you have knowledge of Australia and what it means to be an Australian citizen. At the time of your appointment, you must show that you have:
- an understanding of what it means to become an Australian citizen,
- an adequate knowledge of Australia and the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship, and
- an understanding and commitment to Australian values based on freedom, respect and equality.
The applicant should score 75% or more on the citizenship test. Applicants between the ages of 18 and 59 years will need to have an interview and sit the citizenship test. Some applicants aged 16 or 17 years, or aged 60 and over, may be required to have an interview but will not need to sit the citizenship test. More information on the citizenship test and official test materials can be found here.
The Australian Citizenship Act 2007 provides that applicants should be willing to make a pledge of commitment to apply for citizenship by conferral. The pledge completes the process of becoming an Australian citizen by conferral. A person makes the Australian citizenship pledge of commitment during a citizenship ceremony. After the citizenship application is approved, the applicant will receive an invitation to attend a citizenship ceremony.
Australian Citizenship by Conferral Benefits
Australian citizenship by conferral includes the same rights, privileges and opportunities as any other Australian citizen. This includes staying in Australia indefinitely, the right to vote, serving in the jury, and working in Australian public service.
You can have your own passport and travel in and out of Australia as you please and have consular protection. And unlike a permanent resident, an Australian citizen can travel inside and outside Australia without needing to renew the Resident Return Visa (RRV) every 5 years.
More benefits include having access to student loans and medical facilities, applying for bank loans for buying property, and sponsoring eligible relatives for permanent residence.
Seeking Legal Advice from Expert Immigration Lawyers
You may want to obtain Australian citizenship by conferral to enjoy the same rights and benefits as other Australian citizens. However, living in Australia for 4 years does not automatically grant Australian citizenship by conferral.
This article only provides general advice. Your application can get refused for various reasons such as the failure to prove identity, and record of a criminal history among other things. Thus, we highly advise seeking legal advice.
JB Solicitors has a leading team of expert lawyers with experience in handling Immigration Law cases. Our lawyers can ensure that your application meets all the legal requirements in order to avoid a refusal of your application.
Do you have any more queries on Australian citizenship by conferral? Contact us today.