Australia, with its pristine landscapes, vibrant cities, and a robust economy, is a dream destination for many. But beyond the allure of its natural beauty and cultural richness lies the dream of calling Australia ‘home’. For those considering a permanent move, this guide provides a comprehensive overview of the journey from setting foot on Australian soil to becoming a proud citizen.
1. Moving to Australia as a Foreigner
Before you can think about citizenship, you must first enter the country legally. There are several ways foreigners can move to Australia, depending on their intentions and qualifications:
a) Work Visas:
For professionals looking to work in Australia, there are different types of work visas:
- Skilled Independent Visa (Subclass 189): For individuals with an occupation on Australia’s skilled occupation list who are not sponsored by an employer or family member.
- Employer Nomination Scheme (Subclass 186): For those sponsored by an Australian employer.
- Skilled Nominated Visa (Subclass 190): For professionals invited by a state or territory government.
b) Study Visas:
Foreign students accepted to Australian institutions can apply for the Student Visa (Subclass 500). This allows them to live and study in Australia and may lead to other opportunities for staying in the country post-study.
c) Family and Partner Visas:
Individuals can also move to Australia through family connections:
- Partner Visa (Subclasses 820 & 801): For spouses and de facto partners of Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents, or eligible New Zealand citizens.
- Parent Visa (Subclass 103): Allows parents of settled Australian citizens or permanent residents to migrate to Australia.
2. Transitioning to Permanent Residency (PR)
Permanent Residency is a significant step towards Australian citizenship. PR holders can live, work, and study in Australia indefinitely. Here’s how to make the transition:
a) From Work Visas to PR:
Holders of certain work visas, like the Skilled Independent Visa or the Employer Nomination Scheme, can transition to PR directly, as these visas grant immediate permanent residency upon approval.
b) From Student Visas to PR:
Students often transition to a Post-Study Work Visa (Subclass 485) after completing their studies. This visa allows them to remain in Australia and gain work experience, which can then aid in obtaining a skilled visa and eventually PR.
c) From Partner Visas to PR:
The Partner Visa (Subclass 820) is a temporary visa. After two years, if the relationship is still genuine and ongoing, the individual can apply for the Permanent Partner Visa (Subclass 801).
3. Applying for Australian Citizenship
After fulfilling residency requirements and other criteria as a PR, you can embark on the journey to become an Australian citizen. Here are the steps:
a) Residency Requirement:
Before applying for citizenship, PR holders must have:
- Lived in Australia for 4 years with at least one year as a Permanent Resident.
- Not been absent from Australia for more than one year in total during the four-year period, and not more than 90 days in the year before applying.
b) Understand Your Responsibilities and Privileges:
Australia expects its citizens to uphold the responsibilities and privileges that come with citizenship, such as obeying the law, voting, serving on a jury, and defending the country if needed.
c) Citizenship Test and Interview:
Most applicants aged between 16 and 59 years need to pass a citizenship test, which evaluates their understanding of Australia, its values, and its people.
d) Pledge Your Commitment to Australia:
Approved applicants are invited to attend a citizenship ceremony, where they make a pledge of commitment to Australia. After this ceremony, they are officially Australian citizens.
The journey to Australian citizenship is both rewarding and demanding. From the initial stages of entering the country to the momentous occasion of taking the citizenship pledge, each step requires dedication, patience, and a genuine love for Australia. This guide provides an overview, but it’s always essential to consult with immigration professionals or official resources to understand the ever-evolving migration laws and policies. Cheers to your Australian dream!
FAQs on Australian Citizenship
Australia’s citizenship process can be intricate, leading to numerous queries. Here are some frequently asked questions to provide further clarity:
1. How long does the Australian citizenship process take?
The duration varies depending on individual circumstances, but on average, it takes around 17 to 19 months from application to decision. The citizenship ceremony will take place within six months of approval.
2. Is the citizenship test difficult?
The citizenship test is designed to evaluate an applicant’s understanding of Australia’s values, history, and symbols. With proper study and preparation using the official resource book “Australian Citizenship: Our Common Bond,” most applicants find success.
3. What if my citizenship application is refused?
If your application is refused, you can request a review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). It’s important to act promptly, as there are strict time limits for applying for a review.
4. Can I hold dual citizenship with Australia?
Yes, Australia does allow dual citizenship. However, it’s crucial to check the regulations of your original country, as some nations don’t permit dual citizenship.
5. Do I have to renounce my current citizenship when I become an Australian citizen?
No, Australia does not require you to renounce your current citizenship. Again, it’s essential to verify with your home country’s regulations regarding this.
6. How does becoming an Australian citizen benefit my children?
Children under 16 years of age can be included in your citizenship application. Once you become an Australian citizen, any child born to you will automatically be granted Australian citizenship, even if born overseas.
7. What are the primary reasons citizenship applications are denied?
Reasons can include failing the citizenship test, not meeting residency requirements, or having character issues that do not align with the nation’s values.
8. Can I apply for citizenship if I have a criminal record?
It depends on the nature and severity of the crime. Each application is assessed individually. Having a criminal record can impact your application, especially if the offence is severe or recent. The Department of Home Affairs will consider the nature, duration, and recency of the offence.
With this comprehensive guide and the provided FAQs, prospective Australian citizens should find themselves better equipped for their journey towards calling the Land Down Under their official home. Always consult official resources and consider seeking professional advice to navigate the process seamlessly.