Navigating the Path to Australian Citizenship: A Comprehensive Guide for Permanent Residents

Published on June 6, 2024

Navigating the Path to Australian Citizenship: A Comprehensive Guide for Permanent Residents

Navigating the Path to Australian Citizenship: A Comprehensive Guide for Permanent Residents

Becoming an Australian citizen by conferral involves meeting specific eligibility criteria. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the requirements and processes:

Become an Australian citizen

Eligibility Criteria

Permanent Residency

  • Must hold a permanent resident visa for at least one year.
  • New Zealand citizens holding a Special Category (subclass 444) visa (SCV) are considered permanent residents for citizenship purposes.

Residence Requirement

  • Must have lived in Australia on a valid visa for four years immediately before the application date.
  • Must hold a permanent visa or an SCV for the last 12 months before applying.
  • Must not have been absent from Australia for more than 12 months in the past four years and no more than 90 days in the last 12 months before applying.

Children under 16 are exempt from the general residence requirement but must be permanent residents. For children aged 16 or 17, proof of significant hardship or disadvantage may be required if meeting the residence requirement.

Exemptions and Special Circumstances

  • Exemptions to the residence requirement include:
    • Individuals under 16 years.
    • Those born to former Australian citizens who lost citizenship before 4 April 2002.
    • Persons born in Papua before 16 September 1975 with one Australian-born parent who was an Australian citizen at the time of birth.
  • SCV holders will remain considered permanent residents for citizenship purposes while outside Australia if they held an SCV immediately before departure.

Character Requirement

Applicants aged 18 years or over must be of ‘good character’, demonstrating enduring moral qualities, adherence to Australian laws, and meeting citizenship commitments. Factors considered include:

  • Criminal convictions.
  • Court obligations in Australia or overseas.
  • Associations with people of concern.
  • Incidents of reported domestic violence.
  • Honesty in dealings with the Australian community, including visa or citizenship applications.

Knowledge of Australia

Applicants must understand what it means to be an Australian citizen, assessed through a citizenship test and interview. Requirements include:

  • Basic knowledge of English.
  • Understanding Australian values and responsibilities.
  • Adequate knowledge of Australia.

A score of 75% or more on the citizenship test, including correct answers to all 5 questions on Australian values, meets this requirement.

Language Requirement

Applicants need a basic knowledge of English to integrate and participate fully in Australian life. Exemptions apply to those aged 60 or over, who may not need to sit the citizenship test but must still confirm their identity and application understanding through an interview.

Close and Continuing Link to Australia

Applicants must demonstrate a commitment to living in Australia or maintaining close ties. Factors assessed include:

  • Property ownership or rental in Australia.
  • Location of high-value items.
  • Sources of income and employment situation.
  • Family situation and schooling arrangements.
  • Participation in the Australian community.
  • Travel patterns and reasons for travel.
  • Relationships with Australian permanent residents or citizens.

Situations Where Applications Cannot Be Approved

Identity Verification

  • Applications cannot be approved if identity cannot be verified.

Criminal Offences

  • Applications are denied if:
    • Pending proceedings for an offence against Australian law.
    • Less than two years since release from a 12-month or longer prison sentence.
    • Subject to certain court conditions (parole, good behavior, bail).
    • Currently in prison or a psychiatric institution by court order.

National Security Risk

  • Applications are denied if assessed as a risk to Australia’s security.

Former Citizens

  • Applications are denied if the applicant ceased to be an Australian citizen in the past 12 months.

Location at Time of Application Approval

  • Applications for general eligibility must not be approved if the applicant is outside Australia at the time of decision, with some exceptions for special residence requirements or spousal/interdependent partner discretion.


Meeting the criteria for Australian citizenship involves a thorough understanding of residence requirements, character assessments, knowledge of Australia, language proficiency, and maintaining close ties to the country. Each criterion ensures that applicants are well-integrated and committed to contributing positively to Australian society. For detailed information and updates, regularly check the Department of Home Affairs’ website or follow our page for the latest news.

We also wrote an article about how to prepare for the citizenship test and interview. Please refer to: Decoding the Australian Citizenship Test and Interview: Preparation Tips.

For more information on our services or to discuss your visa needs, please contact us at Kris Ahn Lawyers.

Disclaimer: Not Legal Advice

The information provided in this blog post/article is for general informational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice or create a representative-client relationship. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, the content may not reflect the most current legal developments or specific circumstances.

Do not rely solely on the information presented here – but please book in a consultation with us to see how you this information applies to you and may benefit you. Any reliance on the material in this post is at your own risk.

Australian immigration law is arguably one of the most complex laws in Australia. Seek professional legal advice tailored to your individual needs before making any decisions based on the content of this post.