From Applicant to Citizen: My Australian Citizenship Timeline
Wondering how long the Australian citizenship timeline actually takes? While my story might be a little different to most, I’m sharing what mine looked like anyway to help put the Australian citizenship process into perspective.
Why I moved to Australia
I actually first came to Australia in 2006 on a Working Holiday Visa after I finished university. In that time, I completed 90 days fruit picking farm work to secure a second Working Holiday Visa. What some people might not know is that you don’t need to complete the second Working Holiday Visa straight after your first one.
I went back to London for five years before I came back in 2012 to start my second visa just before I turned 30. As long as you start your second Working Holiday Visa before you turn 30 (in some cases it’s 35), then it’s still eligible. You can also get a third Working Holiday Visa now too, so find out more about the Working Holiday Visa program before you go.
I came back in 2012 because I met Steve, my now Australian husband while travelling the world. We ended up back in Australia together and the rest is history.
Australian visa timeline
When I came into Australia in 2012 on a Working Holiday Visa, it wasn’t ever supposed to be permanent. Our plan was to save for a year and continue our travels around the world. You can read my article; How I Saved $20,000 On A Working Holiday Visa as we saved as much as we could earning a low wage in Sydney.
When we left Australia in 2013, we ended up coming back in 2014 yet again. This time it was a little tricky as I was out of Australian visas. After ringing the Department of home affairs, we discovered a loop hole and so I entered Australia on a Tourist Visa. I then spent three months putting my application together for the Defacto Partner Visa (820 visa).
When I applied for the partner visa, I automatically went onto a bridging visa while I waited a year to receive the partner visa.
Another year went by and I could finally apply for the second part of the partner visa which is the 801 visa, which in turn would make me a permanent resident.
Fast forward another year and I found out I could apply for Australian citizenship, but it was just weeks away from us going on a around the world trip. I frantically got my paperwork done, but I was waiting on my birth certificate which delayed me applying for two months. My visa was then rejected because I had been out of the country for too long.
When I realised this, I was then going to have to wait another four years from when I returned to Australia to apply yet again for citizenship which broke my heart.
Applying for citizenship
I actually didn’t realise I was eligible to apply for citizenship. When we left Australia in 2022 to travel to Italy and Greece, I was pulled up at customs and told my permanent resident visa had expired. I had no idea they expire after five years. So I had to race online and extend it to be able to return to Australia.
After this worry, I decided to look online to see when I could actually apply for citizenship. It turned out I had just become eligible (I thought I was going to have to wait another six months). You can check if you’re eligible by checking the Residence Calculator.
So I gathered up all the supporting documents and sent off my citizenship application. I have written all about How I Applied For Australian Citizenship if you need a bit of reassurance on how to do it.
Within a month of applying for Australian citizenship, I was sent a citizenship test appointment which I was super panicked about. I have never been great at tests so I was a bit worried about this once, regardless of how everyone told me it was super easy. I have written a guide for 13 Tips For The Citizenship Test In Australia (And I Passed!) if you’d like a sneak peek about what it looks like.
After I finished the Australian citizenship test, I was told I would be sent a letter to be invited to the Australian citizenship ceremony. I then checked our post box every day for the next several months. But, I was actually sent an email three months after I took the test to say my citizenship had been approved. It was then six months later than I was finally invited to the citizenship ceremony, again by email not letter.
What my timeline looked like
So I’m going to share what my timeline looked like, even though it will probably be different to yours. But this is just something to give you some guidelines.
2006 – I came to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa for one year as a 23 year old.
2007 – I returned back to UK
2012 – My unexpected move to Australia
2012 – Entered Australia on my Second Working Holiday Visa (the third working holiday visa wasn’t around then)
2013 – Left Australia on a one year around the world adventure
1 Feb 2014 – Entered Australia on a three month Tourist Visa. I can’t work on this visa, but it gives me time to get my Defacto Partner Visa application ready.
30 April 2014 – I submitted my Defacto Partner Visa a few days earlier (check out my How I Applied For The Australian Partner Visa guide). This is now my final day of my tourist visa, and I have successfully been put onto a bridging visa which gives me full working rights in Australia, while I wait for the Defacto Partner Visa to be approved.
April 2015 – I have been granted the Defacto Partner Visa (820 visa)!
February 2016 – I receive an email stating I can apply for the second part of the Defacto Partner Visa (801 visa) which will grant me permanent residency.
December 2017 – The law changes and I can now apply for citizenship. Originally you had to be a permanent resident for 4 years, now the law states I have to be living in Australia for 4 years and I can apply for citizenship. I then frantically get all the documents ready to apply for citizenship before we embark on our around the world travels.
2018 – Leaving Australia again to travel the world
January 2018 – we leave Australia for our around the world trip for a year.
April 2018 – Steve’s mum sends off my citizenship application (we had to wait as there was a mix up with my birth certificate not being the original and being a copy).
May 2018 – my citizenship application is rejected because I have been out of Australia for more than three months. My heart breaks.
2019 – Starting the process from scratch again
January 2019 – we return to Australia on my permanent resident visa. Because I have been out of Australia for a year, I start the citizenship process from scratch and have to wait four years of living in Australia to then apply again.
May 2022 – We leave Australia for a holiday to Greece and Italy and I’m told my Permanent Resident visa has expired. This means I have to apply for an extension on my visa to return to Australia from our holiday (PR lasts for five years fyi).
June 2022 – I check the citizenship Residence Calculator to see if I am eligible yet to apply for Australian citizenship and it turns out I am! I’m not too sure how it calculated it, but it said I was good to apply!
June 2022 – finally applying for citizenship
June 2022 – I apply for Australian citizenship!
July 2022 – I receive an email to take the Australian citizenship test in 9 days time! I take it and pass with 95%. Read my Citizenship Test Guide to find out everything about it.
September 2022 – I finally receive an email stating my Australian citizenship has been approved.
March 2023 – I receive an email saying I am invited to the Australian Citizenship ceremony in four weeks time. I have to respond with how many guests I am bringing (you’re allowed two).
And this is where I’m at now! My next process is to apply for an Australian passport, but I also need to change my surname too. In October, Steve and I got married but we decided I would wait until I got my citizenship before changing my name. We decided to wait because we didn’t want to hold up my citizenship any longer than I had already been waiting.
I’ll write another guide about how to go about applying for an Australian passport very soon once I look into it! But I have read that you need to wait 10 days after the ceremony before applying for citizenship.
Although my story might differ from most, this is what it took for me to finally become an Australian citizen. I feel very proud that I stuck it out and I have a future of certainty, knowing that any time I want to come and go from Australia, I won’t ever have to worry about it again.
Read my Australian Visa Guides!
I have written all about my entire visa process over the years which you can read more into below.