What you'll need to know if you wish to become an Australian citizen

Date: Sep 21, 2012

Like any country, Australia has a strict set of rules about becoming a citizen and involves a lot of dedication and paperwork. There are a number of options under which you can apply, depending on your circumstances.

If you have any question regarding your eligibility for citizenship or any other immigration matters, you should speak to an experienced immigration lawyer.

If you are married or are the spouse of an Australian citizen, it does not automatically mean that you are eligible to become an Australian citizen too.

First of all, there are a number of factors that determine your eligibility for citizenship, including your residency status, your likelihood of continued residency in Australia and your character - this refers to your criminal history and will be assessed for all applicants over the age of 18.

The residency requirements say that you must have had an legitimate visa to remain in Australia for four years and must have been a permanent resident for the previous 12 months. You must not have been away from Australia for more than a year in the previous four years and must not have been outside the country for more than consecutive 90 days in the previous year leading up to your application for citizenship.

The main documents that you'll need for the citizenship process are your passport and a penal clearance certificate[comma] which is a document from your home country testifying about your criminal history and the nature of any crimes committed.

Once your application has been submitted, you'll attend an appointment with an official who will assess your eligibility for citizenship by examining your documents.

If you are eligible you will sit a citizenship test which will assess your knowledge of Australian history, its parliamentary procedures and its laws. The test will include questions such as 'What is the role of the governor-general' or 'What happened on January 1, 1901'.

There are some exceptional cases where in lieu of a test, an interview will be conducted. This will also assess your use of English, as well as your knowledge of what becoming an Australian citizen entails in terms of rights and responsibilities.

A decision on your citizenship will only be made once you submit your application and documents and pay your fees. If you are approved then you are able to attend a citizenship ceremony roughly within three months of your approval, where you will pledge your allegiance to Australia and its people.