Need to know what to do when applying for citizenship in Australia? I’m going to share my story about the entire process and what I did to get my application not only approved, but I passed my citizenship test as well! Hopefully it will reassure you about how to get started for becoming an Australian citizen in no time.
Please note, I am just sharing my personal experience. If you have any questions, contact our go to migration agent called AUREC Migration & Mobility. Kelly and her team will be able to give you the most up to date answers about applying for citizenship in Australia.
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Unsure what Australian visa to start with?
If you’re thinking of moving to Australia and haven’t started the process yet, check out our Australian Visa Guide which will help you learn about the various visas to apply for in order to start your Australian journey.
Why should you apply to become an Australian citizen?
Unsure why you need to apply for citizenship when you’re an Australian permanent resident? Many of our Instagram followers asked us why I wanted to become and Australian citizen as they were confused what the difference is with having a permanent residency visa.
When you’ve become an Australian permanent resident, the visa runs on a five year basis. This means every five years you’ll need to renew the visa. If you decided you wanted to leave and move back home or to another country, you might have problems renewing the visa if you’re out of Australia for a long time. You’ll need to explain your continuing association with Australia.
Future Australian citizens gain an advantage to being able to vote, but for me it means more than that. I didn’t want to have to worry for the rest of my life about being tied to Australia.
Although it is now my home and I’ll probably live here for the rest of my life, I didn’t want to be just an Australian permanent resident. For me, I wanted to become an Australian citizen so I can gain an Australian passport and never have to worry about coming back and forth over longer periods of time.
Why my Australia citizenship application got rejected the first time I applied
Now here’s the thing; to apply for Australian citizenship, it’s all about dates and how often you’ve been out of Australia. This is what got my citizenship application rejected last time I applied.
Quick story, but in 2018 just before we left Australia for a year to travel the world, I found out I could apply for Australian citizenship.
I was eligible to apply in April 2018, but we had already made plans to travel for a year from January 2018 (they had literally changed the citizenship requirements a couple of weeks before we were due to fly out, which determined I could then apply).
So the plan would be that Steve’s mum would send the application off in April while we were away. I would then come back to do the test as and when needed during our travels. For some reason, I forgot about the dates and Steve’s mum didn’t send it off until June as we were waiting on confirmation about whether I could submit a certified copy of my birth certificate rather than the original. This meant I had been out of the country for 5 months and my citizenship application got rejected.
When I realised this, it meant I would have to start the whole process from scratch as we were then out of Australia for more than a year. So, fast forward four years and I have now just applied.
How to find out if you are eligible for Australian citizenship
First of all, go to the Residency Calculator and check if you are eligible for applying for citizenship in Australia.
Just to be clear about why I got rejected, here’s the reason why.
Firstly you need to be a permanent resident for at least 12 months to apply for Australian citizenship.
I had been a resident for more than 12 months, so this was all good.
You can’t be out of Australia for more than 12 months in the last 4 years
I had to start all over from the beginning because we had then been out of the country for a year after I got rejected. So in 2019 I started from scratch again and wait another four years.
You can’t be out of Australia for more than 3 months in the last 12 month’s before applying.
This is the reason why my application was rejected. We left in January 2018 but I wasn’t eligible to apply until April 2018. The dates meant that I was literally just inside the three months to apply, but because we didn’t send it off until June, this meant I was rejected.
Permanent Resident Visa only lasts 5 years
Recently when we left Australia to go on holiday to Greece & Italy, I got pulled up at immigration to say my permanent resident visa had expired. I had to spend about $500 to get a resident return visa to get back into Australia (I was super nervous but it came through within a day or two). So If you’re on a PR be careful that they expire after five years and you need to renew it for another five years.
Because we live quite a spontaneous lifestyle, I didn’t want my permanent residency to be determined every five years about whether I could stay in the country which we talked about above. I want to be able to live freely in or out of Australia so getting citizenship meant a lot to me.
When we got back to Australia, I checked the Residency Calculator to check when I would be eligible for Australian citizenship and it turned out I was. I thought I was going to have to wait until 2023 to apply but it turns out that I was now eligible.
If you’re unsure, just check the Residency Calculator to be on the safe side. You have to put in the dates from when you first arrived in Australia, so for me I first came here in 2006 on a Working Holiday Visa, and didn’t actually move back until January 2012. But I would put in the date from 2006 into the calculator.
It must have counted my time from 2018 and because of covid, I hadn’t been out of the country for more than one year since mid 2018.
What the citizenship application process looks like
To take it back a couple of steps, I came into Australia on a tourist visa, then applied for the 820 Defacto Partner Visa as I had been in a relationship with Steve for a year. Two years after getting that visa I could apply for the second part of the partner visa called the 801 visa which would grant me permanent residency.
Applying for the Partner Visa for Australia was really full on. I knew I had to get that visa to be able to stay in the country, so I spent three months on the tourist visa putting together the application. My Partner Visa Guide has helped a lot of people which is amazing as there wasn’t a lot of information about it when I applied.
I thought applying for citizenship would be similar, but it wasn’t too painful.
You have to fill out about a 30 page form online which requires all of your information about where you live, passport details, criminal records, immediate family details etc. It’s not difficult and you won’t have to spend hours trying to find this specific information. You can add to it over time, so it’s not like you have to do it all at once.
The hardest parts of the citizenship application
There are a couple of painful parts you have to fill out, which for me which were hard because we have travelled and moved around a lot. This was the most time consuming part of the Australian citizenship application.
Be prepared to dig out the details for the following:
Dates and addresses of where you’ve lived for the last five years
Dates and countries of where you’ve travelled in the last 10 years.
I pulled my passport out and tried to find dates in the stamps for where we had visited. I wasn’t exact on dates as sometimes it’s impossible to remember the exact date from where I visited 10 years ago. But I was as close as I could be about the date.
Because I had lived in England for six months in 2018 I had to get a police clearance from ACRO in England. Once I had everything ready to apply, I just waited on this police clearance to come through. And in true government style, they post it to you rather than email it so it took about three weeks to come in the mail.
What do you need to attach for the citizenship application?
You have the option to attach up to 60 documents to support your application but I literally just sent the minimum requirements and sent 12 altogether when applying for citizenship in Australia.
I sent in the following:
Evidence of birth and birth name: Certified copy of my Birth certificate
Evidence of Address: Drivers licence and signed rental lease
Present country of citizenship: My current passport
Document including photograph and signature: My current passport
Character Evidence of United Kingdom: Police clearance from UK
1195 Identity Declaration: Will talk more about this below
Is currently working in a profession or occupation listed on pages 1 and 2, and
Is not related to you by birth, marriage or de facto relationship
Is easy to contact by telephone during normal working hours
If you’re struggling to find someone to fill out this form for you, ask your doctor to do it. You’ll need to get your passport photos taken and ask them to sign the back of it as well.
Applying for citizenship in Australia cost
Wondering how much it’s going to cost to apply to become an Australian citizen? At the time of writing, it cost me $490.
How long to wait for the citizenship test?
I applied for Australian citizenship in June 2022. Within three weeks I was sent an email saying that my Australian citizenship test would be in nine days time. I panicked as I had no idea what to expect for the test and interview that would be taking place at my local Centrelink office.
I think I was really lucky with the dates because of Covid and the lack of migrants in Australia right now. It took some of our friends two years from when they applied to going to the ceremony in 2019. One of our followers said her husband applied, took the test and Australian citizenship ceremony within three months in 2022.
What does the citizenship test and interview look like?
The citizenship test is made up of a series of multiple questions about four different parts:
Part 1: Australia and its people
Part 2: Australia’s democratic beliefs, rights and liberties
Part 3: Government and the law in Australia
Part 4: Australian values
You need to get 75% right of the 20 questions and all of the Australian values questions right (there’s 5 questions) in order to pass the test. You cannot become an Australian citizen unless you pass the test.
Although the email will say there’s an interview conducted alongside the test, it’s not like you think. They will scan your passport and divers licence and take your photo for reference before you take the test.
I’ve been told that I will be sent the Australian citizenship ceremony date in the post but as I only passed the test this week, I have no idea how long it will take. I will keep you updated about when the ceremony date will be and what the next steps are for being able to get an Australian passport!
Need a migration agent?
Keen to move from a permanent residency visa for Australian citizenship and need help from a migration agent? Our only go to migration agents at AUREC Migration & Mobility will be able to help and guide you onto the right path for applying for citizenship in Australia.
Many of our readers have used Kelly and her team at AUREC Migration & Mobility to be able to live freely in Australia by applying for different visas. Send them an email with your questions or concerns and they will get back to you (free of charge!)
Everything I Learned About Applying For Citizenship In Australia