Australian Citizenship: 5 Common Questions

Living in Australia and becoming an Australian citizen has many advantages.

But applying for Australian citizenship is not always straight forward. Depending on your circumstances, there are a number of issues that can cause the application process to become very complicated, including:

  • How you first came to Australia and the identity documents you have available that are able to prove your identity;
  • If you have a parent who was an Australian citizen at the time of your birth, but you do not have documents to prove this;
  • If you have been charged with an offence, have a criminal conviction, or there is any other conduct in your past that may suggest you are not of ‘good character’;
  • If you have spent long periods of time outside of Australia since you were granted permanent residency, or plan on spending time out of Australia after your application is lodged.

Do you have concerns about your eligibility for Australian citizenship? If so, we strongly suggest that you obtain advice before you begin the application process.

Do you have a criminal history and are you worried about how this might affect your application? Have you already started the application process, but have since been charged with an offence? If you have been charged or convicted with an offence of any type, it is important to seek legal advice immediately. We can help.

Here at MSM Legal, we have a team of Registered Migration Agents. We can advise you on all aspects of Australian citizenship requirements, the process, and the outcomes. We have significant experience in helping our clients with appeals when their own initial attempts are unsuccessful.

The benefits of living in a free and democratic society are just the beginning of Australian citizenship.

1.     What are the benefits of becoming an Australian citizen? 

As an Australian citizen:

  • You can live in Australia indefinitely and re-enter freely – you no longer need to worry about applying for Bridging visas or Resident Return visa when you wish to go overseas;
  • You can vote in Australian government elections, at Federal and State/Territory levels;
  • You can apply for a job with the Australian Public Service or the Australian Defence Force;
  • You can seek election to Parliament;
  • You can apply for an Australian passport;
  • You can register your children as citizens by descent (even if they are born overseas);
  • The Department of Home Affairs’ ability to cancel your immigration status, detain, and/or remove your from Australia based on character issues or criminal convictions is significantly reduced.

2.     Am I eligible to become an Australian citizen? 

It is important to understand the requirements you must meet to be eligible for citizenship.

There are several ways to become an Australian citizen depending on your circumstances.

If you were born overseas and at least one of your parents was an Australian citizen at the time, you may eligible to apply for Australian citizen by descent.

If you hold a permanent residency visa, you may eligible for citizenship by conferral if you meet the following requirements:

  • You must be an Australian permanent resident;
  • You must meet the residence requirement – generally this requires you to have lived in Australia on a valid visa for four years before you apply and have been a permanent resident for 12 months of that time, but there are some exemptions available;
  • You must be of good character;
  • You must have a basic understanding of the English language;
  • You must intend to have a close and continuing relationship with Australia;
  • You must have an understanding of the responsibilities and privileges of a citizen of Australia.

If you are unsure about these criteria, and whether you meet them, there is help available.

MSM Legal are experts in the field of Australian immigration law. We understand all the technical requirements of the Australian government. We have considerable experience dealing with the Department of Home Affairs.

Let us help you on your path to citizenship.

Our Registered Migration Agents are available for a consultation with you.

Call us on 08 8161 5088.

3.     How do I become an Australian citizen? 

If you are eligible, there are a number of steps in the process of applying for citizenship.


First, you need to lodge your citizenship application. You will need to include any supporting documents. These documents will help to show the Department of Home Affairs that you meet the requirements for Australian citizenship.

Attend Interview and Sit Australian Citizenship Test

If the Department of Home Affairs decides that you are eligible for the conferral of Australian citizenship, what happens next?

You will need to attend an appointment. At this appointment, your case officer will require you to sit the Australian citizenship test.

Before you sit for the citizenship test, you can study for it. The questions you will be answering cover material from the Australian citizenship test resource book. In the resource book, there is an Australian citizenship practice test. The test questions are designed to test your knowledge of Australia.

The citizenship test will be in English. This will help to demonstrate your knowledge of English.

The resource book is Australian Citizenship: Our Common Bond. It can be downloaded from the Department of Home Affairs website. You can download the booklet in English or 37 other languages.

The downloadable book contains 20 questions in a practice test.

It covers 3 sections that contain the information you will be tested on. These cover:

  • Australia and its people;
  • Australia’s democratic beliefs, rights, and liberties, and;
  • Government and the law in Australia.

In addition, there are other sections that help you learn about Australian culture and history. These sections are not tested. Australia Today, and Our Australian Story help applicants for citizenship to understand Australia, and what it means to be an Australian citizen.

You must sit this test if you are an eligible adult applying for Australian citizenship. Some people might be eligible for a waiver.

Attend Ceremony and Take the Pledge

If you pass your citizenship test, and the Department approves your application, then you will attend a Citizenship Ceremony.

These ceremonies are generally organised by local councils. At the ceremony, you will take the Australian Citizenship Pledge.

Following the ceremony, you will be an Australian citizen! It is definitely a day to celebrate.

4.     What if I am a New Zealand citizen? 

New Zealand citizens who live in Australia with a Special Category visa subclass 444 are not permanent residents. There are permanent visas available for New Zealanders. These can provide a pathway to citizenship in Australia.

Contact MSM Legal for advice on the best way to move towards your goal. We can help you with your Australian citizenship application.

Call today 08 8161 5088.

5.     My citizenship application was refused. What do I do now? 

If your citizenship application was refused and you want to investigate your options, you need to seek legal advice. MSM Legal has substantial experience assisting clients who have had their application refused.

Are you worried that something may interfere with the success of your application? Would you like to discuss the matter with a lawyer in a confidential setting? Our lawyers are experts in immigration law, and we can help advise you. We also have long-term relationships with criminal and family lawyers, and can build a team of advocates on your behalf.

These matters are often time-sensitive. Do not delay.

MSM Legal is happy to advise you on the next step.

Book a consultation today.

Call 08 8161 5088.