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What is the process to apply for Australian citizenship in 2021?

Posted on November 25, 2020
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An Australian citizenship is the dream of many migrants who have managed to get a permanent residency in Australia. The citizenship process may look long and expensive, but if you follow each step diligently and are well-prepared for each step in the process, then it will be easy to get your citizenship. This post will give you details of the Australian citizenship process for 2021.

With an Australian citizenship you get numerous rights and privileges which includes the right of entry into Australia, the right to vote in elections and eligibility to apply for government services.  Before you start the process of applying for citizenship, check if you are eligible for citizenship. The general eligibility requirements include:

  • Applicants must have a PR visa
  • They must be above 18 years
  • They must satisfy the residence requirement
  • They are most likely to reside, or continue to live in Australia
  • They should have a good character

Residence requirement

This is based on the period you have lived in Australia and the time you have spent outside the country. The residence requirements include:

Must have been living in Australia on a valid visa for four years before the date of application

Must have lived the last 12 months as a permanent resident

Must not have been away from Australia for more than one year in this four-year period

Must have not been away from the country for more than 90 days in the year you are applying for the PR visa

 Citizenship test and interview

Applicants who are to give the citizenship test must give an interview first. Some applicants might be required to give an interview even if they do not sit for the test.

In case you have to attend the citizenship interview, you will receive an appointment letter with the details prior to the interview date.

The test will basically test your understanding of the Australian traditions, values, history, and national symbols. It will also assess your English language skills. This test is required to ensure you can participate in the community and in turn integrate into society successfully.

In order to take the test, you must be a permanent resident of the country and prove your identity when registering for the test. Before you sit for the test, your original documents will be checked and your eligibility will be confirmed.

Applicants who are below 18 years or above 60 years are exempt from giving the test. Those who have an impairment related to hearing, speech or vision are also exempted from giving the test.

Changes in the citizenship test

In September 2020 Australia introduced changes to the citizenship test which included more questions on Australian values. According to Alan Tudge, Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, the new questions were added with the intention that “… require potential citizens to understand and commit to our values, like freedom of speech, mutual respect, equality of opportunity, the importance of democracy and the rule of law.”

These are some of the questions introduced in the new version of the Australian Citizenship test:

Why is it necessary that all Australian people vote to elect the state and federal parliament?

Should people in Australia make an effort to learn English?

In Australia, if you have been insulted, can you promote violence against an individual or group of people?

If they find that they disagree, do people in Australia accept each other?

Are people free in Australia to choose who to marry or not to marry?

In Australia, is it appropriate for a husband to be aggressive towards his wife if she has disobeyed or disrespected him?

Do you believe that equality of opportunity should be granted to men and women while following their priorities and interests?

Provide the original documents

You must submit your original documents when applying for citizenship. These documents must prove:

  • Your identity
  • You have no serious criminal record
  • Links between the various names you have used

Complete your application form

Ensure that you give answers to all the questions in the application form.

Submit your application form

You can either apply online or post a paper application form to the nearest department office. The application form must be accompanied by documents which prove your identity. However, ensure you do not submit any original documents with your application.

You will have to bring the original documents when attending the citizenship appointment. Other documents you must bring with you include an identity declaration, your endorsed photos and those of any children included in your application.

Understand the instructions about paying your application fees and the amount before submitting your application form.

Attend your citizenship appointment

Once you submit your application, you will receive an appointment notification from the immigration department. During the appointment, an authorized officer will check all your original documents and verify your identity. You will also need to take a citizenship test or interview.

Get the notification on department’s decision on your application

You can get a decision on your citizen application provided you have submitted a complete application form, with the original documents and paid the required fees. You can check on the service standard for processing your application by referring to the Client Service Charter. If you don’t receive the notification in the stipulated time you should contact the department. It is necessary for you to be in the country when a decision is made.

Attend the citizenship ceremony

Once you receive the notification that your application has been approved, you will have to attend a citizenship ceremony and take the Australian Citizenship Pledge.

This ceremony is usually held within six months of approval of your application. If children under 15 were included in your application form, they will also become citizens when you take the pledge.

Online citizenship ceremony

The decision to hold online citizenship ceremonies was taken in April this year. This was in keeping with the health precautions due to COVID-19 which has made it impossible to have citizenship ceremonies in-person.

Till date more than 60,000 people have received their Australian citizenship online during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The top five countries of origin for citizenship applicants were India at 38,209, the United Kingdom at 25,011, China at 14,764, the Philippines at 12,838 and Pakistan at 8,821.

For the year 2019-20, more than 204,800 people became citizens which is 60 per cent more than the previous financial year.

Processing time for Australian citizenship

The processing time for citizenship applications generally varies between 19-25 months. A citizenship application under the general category takes about 19 months to two years. This includes the period from the date of application to decision and the date of approval to the citizenship ceremony.

According to the Department of Home Affairs indicates the waiting period for Australian citizenship has increased at present due to a longer processing time. The postponing of face-to-face citizenship tests and interviews has increased the processing time.

Australian citizenship

Source: Department of Home Affairs

If the processing of your application does not happen in the stipulated time, there could be various reasons for this:

  • Failure to submit the complete application or the supporting documents
  • Time taken by the department to cross-check the information you provide to them
  • Time taken by other agencies to provide information related to character and national security

If you follow the application process diligently you have very good chances of getting your citizenship in Australia.

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