From 1 July 2023, all New Zealand citizens, other than diplomatic staff, will be regarded as Australian permanent residence for the purpose of the Citizenship Act 2007 (Cth). This marks a huge change in trans-Tasman immigration policy, marking the largest change in more than two (2) decades.
With a plethora of newly eligible citizenship applicants, we today look at how one can prepare an application for Australian citizenship by conferral.
Australian Citizenship Eligibility for New Zealand Citizens
For most adult applicants, becoming an Australian citizen by conferral requires that the following criteria be met:
- Hold permanent residency
- Meet the general residency requirement
- Understand the nature of the application
- Possess basic knowledge of the English language
- Possess an adequate knowledge of Australia and the responsibilities and privileges of Australian Citizenship
- Likely to reside, or continue to reside, or maintain an association with Australia
- Is of good character
We address some of the more contentious criteria hereunder:
Hold Permanent Residency
“Permanent Residency” is defined under Section 5 of the Citizenship Act 2007 (Cth). This definition applies to both permanent visa holders and certain New Zealand citizens who hold or held Subclass 444 Special Category visas.
Whilst subject to several narrow exceptions, applicants must have remains substantially present within Australia throughout the 4 years immediately preceding their application, the last 12 months of which must have been as an Australian citizen.
In summary, an applicant cannot have been absent from Australia for:
- 12 or more more months within the preceding 4 years
- 90 or more days within the preceding 12 months
Note that any time spent in Australia as an unlawful non-citizen will effectively reset this 4-year residency period.
Whilst several exemptions and modifications to the residency requirement exist, these can be highly technical in nature, requiring a comprehensive legal submission in order to substantiate. If you are unable to meet the residency requirement and would like to investigate possible exemptions, contact a qualified Australian Migration Lawyer today.
Knowledge of the English Language and Australia
With some exceptions, including elderly applicants, all applicants for citizenship by conferral must undertake an interview and citizenship test. These are conducted in English and requires applicants to answer a series of basic questions regarding Australian civics, history, and values.
Applicants who are unable to read English may opt to listen to the citizenship test questions. All tests are administered digitally and are in a multiple-choice format.
Persons with criminal history or other such matters may encounter difficulty when applying for citizenship. Police checks will form part of the application process, meaning that one’s past will need to be confronted for citizenship purposes.
Given the complexity of the Character Test, and the frequency with which citizenship applications are refused on such grounds, it is imperative that persons with any of the following consult an Australian Migration Specialist:
- Criminal charges or convictions
- Court martial offences or other service record issues
- Involvement with a foreign police force, military, paramilitary or other such organization
- Prior apprehension of violence orders, whether provisional or final, made against them for the protection of a domestic partner
How to Apply for Australian Citizenship
Applications for Australian citizenship by conferral can be submitted through the Department of Home Affairs’ IMMI portal. The application process requires comprehensive disclosure of personal particulars, including without limitation:
- Personal particulars
- Details of any available identity documents
- Details of immediate family members
- Residential address history and travel history
- Matters concerning one’s character, including criminal history and prior military service
Failure to disclose adequate information to the Department of Home Affairs may result in refusal of citizenship. This may include refusal on the grounds of a failure to establish one’s identity. Similarly, attempting to conceal criminal history may also form grounds for refusal.
It is also critical that you have your identity attested by a third party, as discussed below:
Form 1195 – Identity Declaration
To submit your application, you must have a Form 1195 declaration completed and submitted by a person who meets all the below requirements:
- Is an Australian citizen
- Has known you for at least 1 year
- Is working in a proscribed occupation or profession
- Is not relation to you by birth, marriage or as a de facto partner
There are 39 proscribed occupations or professions in which a deponent can be employed. This can include a teacher, nurse, legal practitioner, and many others. Instructions at the beginning of Form 1195 include all such vocations.
After You Apply
Once you have submitted your visa application you must wait for approval of your application. This is followed by an invitation to attend a citizenship interview and test, which are generally conducted on the same day.
Once your application is approved and your citizenship test completed, you must wait to obtain a citizenship ceremony hosted by your local council. It is only after attendance of this ceremony and the making of the relevant pledge that you officially become an Australian citizen.
Visa Plan is a firm of Australian migration lawyers who place their utmost focus on client satisfaction and providing top quality service. Visa Plan was founded with a mission to set a new standard for integrity and quality of service in the Australian migration industry. By focusing on the client experience, our team of dedicated, skilled and empathetic lawyers pride ourselves on treating each matter with the care and dedication they deserve. A law firm lives and dies by its reputation, as so do we.
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