The Australian Citizenship Act 2007 determines who is and who can become an Australian citizen.
Australian citizenship comes with responsibilities such as the requirement to uphold Australian laws, and privileges such as the right to vote and seek parliamentary election.
Australian Citizenship may be acquired by operation of law such as when a person is born in Australia to Australian Citizen or Permanent Resident parents, or it may be by application to become an Australian Citizen such as an application for Australian Citizenship by Descent or an Application for Australian Citizenship by Conferral.
Australian Citizenship by Conferral
The most common application for Australian Citizenship by conferral is where a person satisfied the general eligibility requirements under the Australian Citizenship Act 2007.
The general eligibility requirements for Australian Citizenship are set out in section 21(2) of the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 as follows:
- being aged 18 years or over at the time of application.
- being a permanent resident at the time of application and decision.
- satisfying a residence requirement.
- understanding the nature of the application – satisfied by passing the test possessing a basic knowledge of the English language – satisfied by passing the test.
- having an adequate knowledge of Australia and of the responsibilities and privileges of Australian citizenship – satisfied by passing the test.
- being likely to reside, or to continue to reside, in Australia or to maintain a close and continuing association with Australia if the application were to be approved.
- being of good character at the time of the decision.
- There must be no prohibitions on approval.
The General Residence Requirement
The general residence requirement as it is currently in effect came into effect on the commencement of the Australian Citizenship Act on 1 July 2007.
Proposals by the Australian Government are in place to amend the general residence requirement, however, these laws have not yet come into effect.
Currently, to meet the general residence requirement under section 22 of the Australian Citizenship Act a person is required to have been lawfully present in Australia for a period of four years immediately prior to making their application, including the last 12 months as a permanent resident.
All periods of lawful residence in Australia, such as temporary visas, visitor visas, student visas, all classes of bridging visas etc., are taken into account when calculating the four years lawful residence period. To satisfy the general residence requirement, a person must not have been present in Australia as an unlawful non-citizen at any time during the four year period immediately prior to applying for Australian citizenship.