Being granted Australian citizenship may be the culminating moment you have strived for. The greatest benefit of Australian citizenship is knowing that your future is secure in Australia, knowing your citizenship can’t be cancelled or taken off you. You are allowed to vote, access free study, enjoy Medicare and so many other benefits.
When am I eligible for Grant of Australian Citizenship
To be eligible for Australian citizenship you must satisfy the general residence requirements which are that you have:
- been lawfully resident in Australia for at least 4 years on the day you apply
- been a permanent resident for at least 12 months of the 4 years
- not been out of Australia for more than 12 months in those 4 years
- not been out of Australia for more than 90 days in the 12 months immediately before you apply.
What is Lawfully?
Lawfully means in Australia on a temporary or permanent visa. This means if you have had a visa cancelled or expired, you have been unlawful and therefore, your 4 years would start again. Calculating the 4 years is often very simple however, if it is not straightforward , for example where you have been in Australia on a bridging visa, or in prison, or lodged a permanent visa and travelled out of Australia on a permanent visa, then calculating your eligibility date is a critical step before moving to lodge your citizenship application.
Are there exemptions to the General Residence requirement?
Yes there are certain exemptions, for example where you are a sports person sponsored by a particular major sporting organization, or had to travel of Australia due to Australian work obligations, but assessing eligibility for residence exemption is complex and will only be satisfied in very specific situations. If you think you may be eligible for an exemption, contact us to seek advice before you apply to confirm your view on exemption eligibility.
Will my Citizenship Application be affected if I have a Criminal Record?
Yes, your citizenship application can be refused if you have a criminal record. The fact that you committed your offences before you were granted your permanent residence does not mean you will also be granted your Australian citizenship. To be granted Australian citizenship, you must also show you are a person of good character but the test is a higher one then in permanent or temporary visas. For example, there have been recent DIBP refusals for cases where people have been convicted of driving offences. This reflects the Australian government’s tougher stance on people with criminal records seeking citizenship. If you have criminal record and apply for citizenship, it is quite likely that he DIBP will ask you to make submissions on why you should be considered a person of good character and therefore, granted Australian citizenship.
Can my Citizenship be revoked or cancelled?
Yes, if you got your citizenship through application (not birth), you can have it revoked if:
- are convicted of a serious criminal offence at any time before becoming a citizen, for which you are sentenced to 12 months prison or more
- you have been convicted of making a false statement or representation in application to become an Australian citizen
- your Australian citizenship was gained as a result of migration-related fraud, whether by you or a third party , eg Migration agent
- It would be contrary to the public interest for you to remain an Australian citizen.
An Australian citizen by birth cannot have their Australian citizenship revoked. Similarly, a person conferred citizenship, after fully disclosing all relevant factors, cannot have their Australian citizenship revoked. Children under the age of 18 may also have their citizenship revoked unless the other responsible parent is an Australian citizen or the child would become stateless.
Can I appeal against refusal of my Australian Citizenship?
Yes, generally you can appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) However, if the Minister has intervened personally in your case, you may not have an appeal right to the AAT and would need to seek specialist advice on whether you have may have a right of appeal in the Federal Courts. Also, even if you appeal to the AAT and are successful, the Minister also has the power to step in substitute a negative decision in your case, regardless the AAT found in your favour. Therefore, if you get a ‘Natural Justice’ letter from the DIBP in your Australian Citizenship application, you should immediately contact us for advice to avoid your citizenship application being refused, or if refused, how we can offer expert advice and assistance in running your AAT appeal.