What is conferral citizenship? Conferral citizenship means a person is granted Australian citizenship by meeting specific requirements provided by law. It involves a process where a non-Australian citizen voluntarily becomes an Australian citizen.
The Australian Citizenship Act 2007 governs the rules for Australian citizenship by conferral. This article discusses Australian conferral citizenship.
Conferral Citizenship vs. Citizenship By Descent
In citizenship by descent, the applicant’s parent/parents must be an Australian citizen(s) when they were born overseas. 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.
On the other hand, in conferral citizenship, the applicant becomes an Australian citizen through meeting specific eligibility requirements. It’s a pathway that’s open to migrants, spouses or partners of an Australian citizen, eligible New Zealand citizens, and other non-Australian citizens.
Conferral Citizenship Requirements
To become an Australian citizen by conferral, you would need to:
- Be 18 years’ old or above,
- Be a permanent resident of Australia,
- Pass the identity requirement,
- Understand basic English & 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.
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 commence again.
Furthermore, an Australian citizenship application may be refused if you cannot prove your intention to build a life in Australia or maintain a close and continuing association to Australia. Thus, 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.
Thus, if you have a significant business or family outside of Australia that requires you to spend a huge amount of time overseas, it may affect your Australian citizenship application.
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.
The verification of your identity is one of the most important elements in your application. Failure to prove identity is one of the common grounds for refusal of Australian citizenship. Thus, you must provide genuine documents containing true information. The process of conferral citizenship involves thorough checking, so it is best to ensure that all your documents are genuine and that they contain correct information.
Read more on the identity requirement for Australian citizenship here.
One must fulfil the citizenship requirement to demonstrate that they 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.
An Australian citizenship application can be refused if the applicant failed the citizenship test. Hence, it is highly advisable to study the official materials that are available for applicants. More information on the citizenship test and official test materials can be found 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.
However, a person can prove that, even with past misbehaviour, they are still of good character. Evidence of rehabilitation, employment, charity work, caring for relatives, among other good works are factors that can be considered. If the good works outweigh the past misbehaviour, and sufficient time has passed since the last instance of misconduct, the applicant can still satisfy the character requirements.
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: Applicants take these tests at a secure test centre for English language visa requirements:
- Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL iBT)
- International English Language Testing System (IELTS), including One Skill Retake (OSR)*
- Pearson Test of English (PTE)
- Cambridge English (CAE) (also known as C1 Advanced)
- Occupational English Test (OET), a test developed for health professionals
Read more about the English language requirement here.
Australian Immigration Law provides that the applicant 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. After the citizenship application is approved, the applicant will receive an invitation to attend a citizenship ceremony.
Conferral Citizenship Benefits
Australian citizenship by conferral includes the same rights, privileges and opportunities as any other Australian citizen. This includes the following:
- staying in Australia indefinitely,
- travel in and out of Australia without having to renew the Resident Return Visa (RRV) every 5 years,
- have consular protection,
- the right to vote,
- serve in the jury,
- work in Australian public service,
- access to student loans
- access to Australia’s national health scheme, Medicare,
- applying for bank loans for buying property, and
- sponsoring relatives for permanent residence, if eligible.
Seeking Legal Advice from Expert Immigration Lawyers
This article only provides general advice and the general requirements needed for conferral citizenship. You may have to submit more documents depending on your situation. An approval of Australian citizenship may also differ on a case-to-case basis.
JB Solicitors can help you with your application for citizenship. We have a team of lawyers who have dealt with numerous Immigration Law cases. We can help ensure that your application meets all the requirements for conferral citizenship.
Do you have any more queries on conferral citizenship? Contact us today.