Applying for Citizenship

Important Information

18 October 2017

The citizenship changes proposed on 20 April 2017 will not be implemented after the Citizenship Amendment Bill was struck down by the Senate today.

Despite this, Peter Dutton still intends overhaul citizenship laws. If you apply for citizenship on or after 1 July 2018 (subject to the legislation passing) you will need to have resided as a permanent resident for four years.


The following information is intended for New Zealand citizens who are eligible to apply for citizenship. It should be read in conjunction with the citizenship application information on the Department of Immigration website.

Before applying for citizenship you must have:

  • been granted a permanent visa , such as a Resident Return Visa, or be a protected Special Category Visa-holder; and
  • resided in Australia for four continuous years immediately prior to applying, with at least the last 12 months as a permanent resident. Speak to Immigration about work-related exceptions.

You may be asked to provide a Centrelink certificate, if you:

Please note

  • New Zealanders who first enter Australia after 26 February 2001 are granted a Special Category Visa. This is a temporary visa under the Migration Act and does not enable them to apply for citizenship.
  • Children cannot automatically be included on their parent’s citizenship application, they must first be granted a permanent visa.
  • Children aged under 16, who have been granted a permanent visa, can apply for citizenship immediately if their responsible parent is already an Australian citizen.
  • If you are granted RRV and re-enter Australia after the initial 12 months without renewing the travel capacity you will become an SCV-holder again. You must renew your RRV, and may have to wait another 12 months, before applying for citizenship.
  • Check your visa staus – if you are not a permanent resident your citizenship application will be declined.

Applying for citizenship

Create an ImmiAccount to apply for citizenship online. You may not be apply for citizenship online if you:

  • entered Australia before July 1990 and have not travelled outside of Australia since that date, OR
  • are seeking an exemption or concession to the application fee.

If you are unable to apply online, there are different application forms for people who have been granted permanent residency. If you are aged:

If you are incorrectly charged the $80 non-internet application fee request a refund using Refund Request (form 1424).

After submitting your citizenship application, and payment, you will receive a confirmation email/letter with a Transaction Reference Number (TRN). You can then upload your certified supporting documents, including your completed Identity declaration and endorsed photographs. Do not send any original documents to the Department of Immigration, take them to your citizenship appointment.

Note: the Immigration system will only upload jpg files smaller than 500 KB each.

Citizenship appointment

If your application is accepted, you will be given an appointment. The processing officer will view your original supporting documents and take your photograph. You will need your completed Identity declaration and correctly endorsed photographs for yourself and any children included in your application.

Citizenship test

Applicants aged between 18 to 59 are required to sit the citizenship test at their appointment. The test consists of 20 multiple-choice questions. You need to get 15 of the 20 questions correct and are given 45 minutes to complete the test – most people need less than 5 minutes. You will need to select your nearest Department of Immigration test centre. Use the Citizenship Test Centre locator if unknown.

To prepare for the test download the Australian Citizenship – Our Common Bond PDF or watch the videos on YouTube. You can also try some practice tests.

If you have a disability, poor computer skills, or need assistance to sit the test, refer to the Help with the test information on the Department of Immigration website.

Police check

You should obtain a New Zealand police check before applying for Australian citizenship if you were aged over 18 when you came to Australia, or if you have not previously provided one to Immigration. 

Use the form Requesting your criminal conviction history from outside of NZ. Tick the box at step 3 of the form to request your full record. There is no fee, it remains valid for 12 months, and takes 1-3 months to be processed and sent to you.

If you have travelled outside of Australia for periods totalling 12 months or more since being granted your Australian permanent visa you must provide a penal clearance for each country you have spent more than 90 days in.

Criminal convictions

All criminal convictions, including historical, “spent” or minor sentences, must be declared on your citizenship application. Failure to do so will see your application declined. You will also fail the character requirements if you have been sentenced to 12 months or more in prison, including historical offending or multiple short sentences totalling more than 12 months. A suspended sentence, ie no jail time was served, is still a prison sentence.

Citizenship processing times

Immigration’s website reports that 90% of citizenship applications are processed in 13 months, from the time of lodgement to attending a ceremony.

Processing times will probably increase as thousands of applications were delayed due to the proposed citizenship changes announced in April 2017.

If your application is approved, you will receive a confirmation letter and Immigration will invite you to attend a citizenship ceremony. It can take 3 to 12 months to be invited to attend a ceremony. Contact your local council regarding the frequency of citizenship ceremonies etc.

Fees

The citizenship application fee varies depending on your eligibility, and which form you use to apply. If you are aged:

  • 18 to 59 the fee $285, or $40 if you are on a pension/benefit or hold a healthcare card
  • under 18 or over 60, the fee is $180 or $20 if you are on a pension/benefit or hold a healthcare card
  • under 16 and applying on the same form as a parent, no fee but they must first be granted a permanent visa.

Apply online to avoid being charged the $80 non-internet application fee. Protected SCV-holders are exempt from applying online because they do not have a visa number.

Dual citizenship

New Zealanders automatically become dual New Zealand/Australian citizens. As an Australian citizen you must depart and enter Australia on an Australian passport. Outside of Australia you can continue to travel on a New Zealand passport, if you choose to.

Related

Can I apply for citizenship?

Check your visa status (VEVO)

Renewing your Resident Return Visa before travelling overseas

Refer to citizenship application information on the Department of Immigration website

Have a question?

Phone the Department of Immigration on 13 18 81 or contact them via social media. Please do not provide your personal details on a public forum.

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Disclaimer:

The above “Applying for citizenship” information should not be relied on as an alternative to advice from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, or a professional immigration services provider.

If you have any specific questions about an immigration matter, you should consult the Department of Immigration and Border Protection or a professional immigration services provider.


 

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