There are many advantages of becoming a citizen of this country but before we talk about that, let’s have a look at who can become a citizen of Australia.
Anyone living in Australia for four years with a valid Australian Visa, including the last 12 months as a permanent resident, can apply for Australian Citizenship.
There are many other ways to attain citizenship too, for example
- Anyone born in Australia to a permanent resident or citizen will become an Australian citizen.
- If one of the parents is an Australian citizen, a child born overseas can be registered for citizenship ‘by descent’. They will have the same rights as children born in Australia.
- Spouse or partner of an Australian citizen.
Criteria for applying for Citizenship
- You need to be a permanent resident before applying for citizenship.
- Should not have been absent from Australia for more than 1 year in total throughout that period.
- Pass citizenship test
- Meet the ‘good character’ requirement (including passing Police Checks)
For more information, you can visit border.gov.au
Fun fat – after attaining citizenship, you have the right to renounce or give up citizenship if you no longer wish to be an Australian citizen.
Here’s how you will benefit from becoming an Australian Citizen
1. Hassle-free travel and re-entry:
A permanent resident can stay in the country indefinitely. However, if you want to go overseas and return to the country, you will need to apply for a Resident Return Visa every five years.
Acquiring citizenship helps you stay indefinitely in Australia as well as to re-enter the country whenever you want.
You also get the privilege of staying outside Australia as long as you wish to.
An Australian citizen returning to the country does not have to stand in long queues at the immigration counter. The new Arrivals SmartGate facility makes citizens' life easy.
Eligible travelers arriving at Australia’s eight major international airports have the option to self-process through passport control.
2. Excellent consular support while overseas:
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) provides consular assistance to Australian citizens. If you encounter any mishaps, accidents or injuries while traveling overseas, you will be able to receive full consular assistance from the Australian diplomatic mission in that country.
DFAT's Consular Emergency Centre provides urgent consular assistance round the clock to Australians in distress overseas.
In some countries Canadian posts can also help Australians.
These are a few ways in which the Consular Emergency Centre can assist and support you while you are overseas:
- If you are in hospital, have been involved in an accident, serious illness or death, or are the victim of serious crime.
- If you are arrested or detained overseas. This include informing your family if you wish to.
- During crises like wars, civil unrest, and natural disasters.
- Replace passport if lost, stolen or expired. Fees applies to this service.
- Issue you with a small repayable emergency loan in extreme emergency situations. This is mainly to cover the cost of a replacement travel document.
- Provide information on possible government financial assistance for those eligible, to help with legal costs overseas.
- Provide a list of doctors, lawyers and interpreters if available.
- Issue passports including emergency passports.
However there are clear limits to what the Australian government can do in an overseas environment. For more information contact DFAT.
3. Federal government and defence jobs:
Even though permanent residency gives you the right to be employed in most areas, there are a few jobs which require Australian citizenship. So, being an Australian citizen help you grab the opportunity to work in particular federal government sectors.
Some of the jobs that require Australian citizenship as a criterion are:
- Australian Defence jobs
- Australian Federal Police
- Australian Border Force
- Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
4. You can even become the Prime Minister of Australia!
As an Australian citizen, you have the right to be part of Australian politics and democracy. You can contest an election and have the right to choose your representative in the democratic process.
Every Australian citizen aged 18 years or over is eligible to vote in council and federal elections if validly enrolled.
In fact, voting is mandatory for every Australian citizen in elections and referendums. Details can be found here.
However, right to vote will be denied in circumstances like:
- If you are in prison serving a sentence of three years or more
- If you are incapable of understanding the nature and significance of voting
- If you have been convicted of treason or treachery and have not been pardoned
An Australian also holds the privilege to contest in local and federal elections. Criteria for this can be known here.
5. Visa free travel to 169 countries:
According to the latest report, Australian passport is the eighth strongest passport in the world in terms of travel freedom. From February 2016 holders of an Australian passport can visit 169 countries and territories visa-free or with visa on arrival.
A list of countries and territories that can be visited visa-free with Australian passport can be found here.
6. Financial assistance for education:
Australian citizens also receive student loans and reduced fees for eligible courses in Australia. Among such loans is the HECS‑HELP loan scheme.
HECS‑HELP is a loan scheme for eligible students who are enrolled in Commonwealth supported places. This can support them to pay their student contribution amounts. However, it cannot be used for additional study cost like accommodation or text books.
If you are an Australian citizen and if your university reasonably expects that you will undertake at least some of your course of study in Australia, then you will meet the residency requirements for HECS-HELP assistance.
You will not meet the HECS-HELP residency requirements if your university reasonably expects that you will not undertake any of your course in Australia. If you plan to study the entire course overseas through distance education, then you will not meet the HECS-HELP residency requirements.
7. Protection from deportation:
Any resident, even if a permanent resident, who is not an Australian citizen can be deported within a specified period of entry if:
- They are sentenced for imprisonment for more than 12 months
- They are considered to be a threat to the security of the country
- They fail the good character test
However, an Australian citizen will not be deported from Australia regardless of the severity of their crimes and punishment they receive.