Australian Citizenship FAQ

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Frequently Asked Questions on Australian Citizenship

Below you will find some of the most frequently asked questions about Australian citizenship and useful answers.

1. How do I apply for Australian citizenship? Isn't the process complicated and time consuming?

Becoming an Australian citizen involves a serious commitment but the process is relatively simple. All you have to do is get the form, fill it in and lodge it with the processing fee. There's also a short interview. The Department will write to you to let you know whether your application has been successful. You will then need to attend a citizenship ceremony.

Processing time can vary, if all documentation is provided at the time of lodgement or at interview, it may take up to 30 days for a decision to be made on your application. Once your application has been approved, arrangements will be made for you to attend a citizenship ceremony. Most ceremonies are held by local government councils.

It can take a few months from the date of approval until you are invited to attend a citizenship ceremony. If you need to attend a citizenship ceremony by a particular date, please discuss your circumstances at your citizenship interview.

Citizenship ceremonies are memorable events. You are most welcome to share this memorable occasion with relatives and friends. You will receive details about your citizenship ceremony well in advance so that you can invite them.

2. Isn't citizenship just a legal formality?

It is much more than that, Australian citizenship formalises your membership of the Australian community. It entitles you to the same rights as other Australian citizens.

It is an important way to formalise your commitment to Australia and share in its future. It also carries with it substantive legal rights, such as the right to vote in elections, stand for Parliament, work in the public service, or serve in the armed forces.

Citizenship also entitles you to hold an Australian passport, which can make it easier to re-enter the country if you leave to travel overseas. You also have the right to register your children as Australian citizens by descent if they're born overseas.

3. How much is the fee to apply for Australian citizenship?

A fee must be paid before a citizenship application can be considered, and there is no scope to waive this fee. The current fee is $120 and it has been in place since January 1998. However, a concession fee of $20 is available to applicants who have a permanent financial disadvantage and are recipients of certain pensions from Centrelink or the Department of Veterans' Affairs.

Exemptions

There are two categories of applicants who are exempt from paying the fee.

These are:

Persons who have served in the Australian Defence Force for a period of at least 3 months; and

British and Maltese former child migrants who arrived in Australia under the Commonwealth Child Migrant Scheme between 22 September 1947 and 31 December 1967.

More Information? Please contact the Citizenship Information Line on 131 880.

4. I would like to become an Australian citizen but I haven't been in Australia long enough

To apply for Australian citizenship you would need to have been in Australia for at least 2 years as a permanent resident in the last five years. This time must include a total of twelve months in the two years immediately before making your citizenship application. The twelve months does not need to be continuous.

There are some exceptions to the residence requirements:

Service in the permanent Australian Defence Forces for at least 3 months;

Service in the Australian Reserve Forces for at least 6 months;

Former Australian citizens or persons born in Australia; and

Spouse, widow or widower of an Australian citizen.

Please click here to read Form 1027i How to Apply for Australian Citizenship and find out if any of the exceptions apply to you.

5. Will I lose my current citizenship if I become an Australian citizen?

Australia does not require you to renounce your citizenship when you become an Australian citizen. Whether you lose your former citizenship when you become an Australian citizen does not depend upon Australian citizenship law, but upon the citizenship laws of the other country. A number of countries allow their citizens to keep their original citizenship, so make sure you check with the consulate or embassy to get the latest information.

6. Is it true that I can acquire the citizenship of another country without losing my Australian citizenship?

Yes. On 4 April 2002, the repeal of section 17 of the Australian Citizenship Act meant that Australians retain their citizenship if they acquire the citizenship of another country after that date.

See: Changes to Citizenship Laws

Before 4 April 2002, Australians over 18 who applied for and were granted the citizenship of another country generally lost their Australian citizenship, as did their children under 18, unless their other parent was an Australian citizen.

Australians did not lose their Australian citizenship if they acquired another citizenship automatically or simply obtained a passport of a country of which they were already a citizen. Read Form 1114i for more information.

7. I have just become an Australian citizen. Is my re-entry visa still valid?

No. All previously held visas expire upon the grant of Australian citizenship. As an Australian citizen you have the unrestricted right to stay in Australia and travel freely in and out of the country.

As an Australian citizen, you should use an Australian passport to pass through Immigration/Customs clearance on leaving and returning to Australia.

8. I have just become an Australian citizen. Why should I use my Australian passport to leave and re-enter Australia?

Only Australian citizens have an unrestricted right to travel freely in and out of the country. All other people must have an authority, in the form of a visa, to enter and stay in Australia. Any Australian visa you had in your passport ceased when you became an Australian citizen.

An Australian passport is the only definitive evidence that proves the traveller is an Australian citizen. Without an Australian passport delays may be experienced while the traveller's Australian citizenship is verified. Delays may occur when clearing Immigration/Customs in and out of Australia and at airline check-in when returning to Australia from overseas.

9. My child is an Australian citizen. Can he or she travel on my foreign passport or their own foreign passport?

An Australian citizen under the 18 years of age may be issued with an Australian Declaratory visa (ADV) in either their own foreign passport of in one of their parents' passports. ADVs are administrative documents valid for 5 years from the date of grant.

10. If I adopt a child in Australia, will the child become an Australian citizen?

If the child is adopted in Australia under Australian law and at the time of the adoption holds a permanent visa, and at least one of the adoptive parents is an Australian citizen, the adopted child will automatically become an Australian citizen.

Since 22 November 1984, Section 10A of the Australian Citizenship Act 1948 automatically confers citizenship upon a non citizen child adopted in Australia, if at the time of the adoption the child is in Australia, holds a permanent visa and at least one of the adoptive parents is an Australian citizen.

Persons adopted prior to 22 November 1984 may apply for the grant of Australian citizenship.

11. If I adopt a child overseas, will the child become an Australian citizen?

No, a child adopted overseas will not automatically become an Australian citizen.

Where an adoption is completed overseas an application may be made for the grant of Australian citizenship. Section 13(9)(a) of the Australian Citizenship Act 1948 (the Act) provides a discretion to grant Australian citizenship upon application to any child. To be eligible for the grant of citizenship under 13(9)(a) of the Act, policy provides that at least one adoptive parent must be an Australian citizen and the adopted child must hold an adoption visa or any other permanent visa.

12. I need evidence of my Australian citizenship to get a passport. What do I do?

You need to apply for a Certificate of Evidence of Australian Citizenship at your nearest office of the Department. This certificate is official evidence that the person named acquired Australian citizenship on the date shown and was an Australian citizen on the date the certificate was issued.

In cases where an employer asks for evidence of citizenship, they may be satisfied if you can show them your Australian passport or, if you were born in Australia before 20 August 1986, your birth certificate.

Please click here to read Form 119 on evidence of Australian citizenship. You may download the form and lodge it at your nearest office of the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs in Australia, or at the nearest Australian mission if you are overseas.

13. I lost my Australian citizenship a long time ago. Can I get it back?

Yes. The requirements are that you:

did not know that you would lose Australian citizenship; or

would have suffered significant hardship or detriment had you not acquired the other citizenship; and

intend to commence residing in Australia within three years; and

have been lawfully resident in Australia for a total of at least two years at some time; and

have maintained a close and continuing association with Australia; and are of good character. Form 47P tells you how to get a police certificate in your country of residence.

The declaration of intention to reside in Australia within three years should be made in good faith. It is acknowledged that circumstances or intentions may change.

If you had children under 18 years at the time you lost your Australian citizenship they will have lost their Australian citizenship, unless their other parent was still an Australian citizen. Children under 18 can be included in your resumption application. Children over 18 must apply for resumption in their own right.

Form 132 has comprehensive information and the application form. Applications can be lodged at any of the Department’s offices overseas. In Australia, applications can be lodged at any office of the Department. There is a fee for resumption applications, check page 10 of the Department’s fees and charges. It can take between 5 to 10 weeks to process your application depending on whether you lodge all the necessary supporting documentation.

14. Can I apply for dual citizenship?

People do not apply for dual citizenship. You have dual or multiple citizenship when more than one country recognises you as its citizen. Every country has legislation to determine who its citizens are.

Australian citizens can become dual citizens in a number of ways. For example, by

being granted citizenship of another country, and retaining their Australian citizenship.

Example: Robert is an Australian citizen by birth working in the United Kingdom. He applied for and was granted UK citizenship in 2003, and was able to retain his Australian citizenship due to amendments to the Australian Citizenship Act 1948, which came into effect on 4 April 2002.

being recognised as a citizen by descent, by the country of birth of one of the parents.

Example: Alicia was born in Australia to an Australian citizen mother and a British born father. Alicia is an Australian citizen by birth and recognised as a British citizen by descent by UK citizenship legislation.

being born overseas of an Australian citizen parent and also being recognised as a citizen by their overseas country of birth.

Example: Jennifer was born in the US to an Australian citizen father and an American mother. Jennifer was registered by her father as an Australian citizen by descent. She is also a US citizen by birth.

being granted Australian citizenship and retaining the citizenship of the country of birth, when that country allows dual citizenship.

Example: Jacques was born in Canada and migrated to Australia in the 1980s. When he became an Australian citizen, he retained his Canadian citizenship because Canada allows dual citizenship. Australia does not ask people to renounce their other citizenship.

More information on dual citizens, passports and consular assistance is available from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

15. Do I have to use my Australian passport if I also have a passport from another country?

Many dual/plural citizens hold passports of more than one country. Australians re-entering Australia are required to present satisfactory evidence of their citizenship. An Australian passport is the preferred and most conclusive proof of Australian citizenship. People seeking entry as an Australian citizen without an Australian passport may face difficulties and delays in getting an airline to carry them and on entering Australia. Australian passports are issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). More information on dual citizenship and passports and consular assistance can be obtained from DFAT.

16. I was born overseas to an Australian parent. Am I an Australian citizen?

You are eligible for registration as an Australian citizen by descent if you were born overseas and:

one of your parents was an Australian citizen at the time of your birth;

you are under 25 years of age;

you are of good character (applicants aged 18 and over). Form 47P tells you how to get a police certificate in your country of residence.

You are also eligible for registration if you were born overseas between 26 January 1949 and 15 January 1974 and:

one of your parents was an Australian citizen at the time of your birth;

you are of good character;

you have an acceptable reason for not being registered before.

Was your parent also born overseas to an Australian parent?

If your parent was registered as an Australian citizen by descent, he/she must have been present in Australia for periods totalling two years at some time in their life for you to successfully apply for registration.

Form 118 has comprehensive information and the application form. Applications can be lodged at one of the Department’s offices overseas. In Australia, you can lodge the application and supporting documentation at any office of the Department.

Once you have been registered, you will be given a certificate of Australian citizenship. Processing can take several weeks. There is a fee for descent applications, check page 8 of the Department’s fees and charges.

17. My grandmother doesn't speak English well. Won't her application be rejected if she doesn't pass the English test?

Applicants for citizenship are assessed for their understanding of basic English. However, this requirement does not apply to people aged 50 years and over, so some people who may have limited English language skills can still become Citizens. Also, the requirement to understand the responsibilities and privileges is not tested for people aged 60 years and over.

18. I have lost my Australian citizenship certificate. How can I get another?

If you have lost or misplaced your certificate, you will need to visit your nearest office of the Department and request a Certificate of Evidence of Australian Citizenship. This certificate is official evidence that the person named on the certificate acquired Australian citizenship on the date shown and was an Australian citizen on the date the certificate was issued.

Replacement certificates of Australian citizenship cannot be issued to replace lost or stolen certificates. Replacement certificates are only issued in limited circumstances, for example, if an error was made by the Department when the original certificate was issued.

19. Can I talk to someone about citizenship if I need more information or clarification?

In Australia, you may: