How To Become an Australian Citizen as an Immigrant
Are you an immigrant living in Australia with a visa? It might be time to switch it up for citizenship. This is because Australian citizenship comes with a lot of perks such as visa-free travel, the right to vote, and the right to vie for an electoral position.
However, before you’re granted citizenship you need to meet certain requirements. In this article, we will guide you through all the steps you need to take to become an Australian citizen as an immigrant. Let’s dive right in!
Apply to Become a Permanent Resident of Australia
To be eligible for Australian citizenship, you must be a permanent resident of Australia for at least 12 months. This means if you have a temporary visa, you need to get a permanent residency visa to be granted Australian citizenship.
However, there are different types of visas that could grant you permanent residency status in Australia. For instance, you could get permanent residency through its workstream pathway, family sponsorships, or even a business visa. Apart from that, you could become a permanent resident of Australia if you’re a refugee or an asylum seeker.
Live In Australia for Four Years
If you want to be eligible for Australian citizenship, you need to have lived in Australia for 4 years —during that period, you should have lived 1 year as a permanent resident. But for the other three years, you could be a temporary resident of Australia. However, there is a prerequisite condition that you should not have been outside Australia for more than 12 months out of the 4 years.
Similarly, you need to have lived in Australia for at least 9 months out of the last 12 months prior to the date of applying for citizenship. This means you can travel outside Australia as long as it’s not more than 90 days.
However, if you cannot meet these requirements, the Home Affairs minister has the discretion to give you an exemption. For instance, if you’re spending time outside Australia with your spouse who is an Australian citizen, it can be counted as part of the period you’ve been in Australia.
Have a Good Character
If you’re above 18 years you will need to convince the Australian Department of Home Affairs that you have good character before you can be granted Australian citizenship.
To establish good moral character, Australian immigration will take into account your criminal records – if you have been charged or convicted of an unlawful act, you could be disqualified from becoming an Australian citizen. Nevertheless, a criminal record doesn’t automatically disqualify your application since each case is evaluated on its merit.
Apart from criminal records, the Australian Department of Home Affairs will also consider if you have any obligations to a court in Australia or overseas. For instance, if a court ordered you to pay child support and you failed, it could be a ground for rejection.
Of course, they will also verify if you’ve been transparent in your application — if you’re caught providing false or misleading information, your application could be declined.
Pass the Australian Citizenship Test
Before your Australian Citizenship is approved, you must take the citizenship test and pass it with a score of 75% — this is equivalent to correctly answering 15 questions. However, minors and adults who are above 60 years you’re exempted from taking the test but they have to do the interview.
The Australian citizenship test consists of two parts — the knowledge test and the English competency. More succinctly, the knowledge test includes 5 of the questions that cover Australian values and 15 questions to evaluate your understanding of Australian history, people, and geography.
During the knowledge test, you will have 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete it. In case you have any difficulties using the test computer, you could ask for immediate assistance. In fact, if you’re not familiar with English, you could request a pair of headsets so you could listen to the translation.
Everything that is evaluated in the citizenship test is covered in the Common Bond booklet. The official guide book for the citizenship test is also available in 40 different languages just in case you don’t understand English. Even better, you take an online Australian citizenship practice test to prepare for the citizenship test.
If you’re unfortunate to fail the citizenship test, you can reschedule another test for free. However, if you still fail the citizenship test after three attempts, your citizenship application will be denied.
Take the Australian Citizenship Pledge
After your Australian citizenship has been approved, the next step would be to attend the Australian citizenship ceremony. During the ceremony, you will pledge allegiance to be loyal to Australia and its people. You will also pledge to uphold and obey its laws and respect its rights and liberties.
After the ceremony, you will be issued a Certificate of Australian Citizenship to make it official.