Benefits of becoming an Australian Citizen
Ever wonder why so many people choose to be an Australian citizen? Before we delve into the benefits, let’s see how you can apply to become an Australian Citizen.
How to become an Australian citizen?
The Australian Citizenship Act 2007 sets out the law on who is and who can become an Australian citizen. In Australia, citizenship can be acquired automatically or by application.
Ways to become an Australian Citizen include:
- Citizenship by birth
- Citizenship by descent
- Citizenship by adoption under a law in force in a State or Territory
- Citizenship by conferral.
For many migrants, the most common way to become an Australian citizen is via citizenship by conferral. The general criteria are:
- Residency requirement: You are a permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen for the past 12 months.
- Residency requirement: At the time of the application, you must have been living in Australia on a valid visa for the past 4 years.
- Residency requirement: You have not been away from Australia for more than 12 months in total in the past 4 years, including no more than 90 days in total in the past 12 months. Character requirement: You must be of good character. The Department of Home Affairs will consider whether you are likely to uphold and obey Australian laws and whether you will meet the other commitments made through the citizenship pledge.
- Knowledge requirement: To become an Australian citizen, you must show that you understand what it means to be a citizen. You will be required to sit a citizenship test and must score at least 75% on the test. However, if you are 60 years old and above, you do not have to sit the test.
- Language requirement: As English is Australia’s national language, you must demonstrate that you have a basic knowledge of English. By passing the citizenship test, you will be deemed to meet the language requirement.
- Close and continuing link to Australia: When assessing your citizenship application, the officer can consider if you have any links to Australia. This includes if you have a partner or child who is an Australian citizen, a job in Australia, property in Australia and so forth.
Now that we know how you can become a citizen, let us go through the key benefits.
Key benefits of being an Australian citizen
Visa -free travel
An Australian passport is one of the most powerful passports in the world. You can travel to approximately 160 countries without a visa. In some countries, you will be granted a visa on arrival, so you would not need to worry about the hassle of applying for a visa and waiting a long time for approval.
No more RRV
Australian permanent residents usually have a 5-year travel facility attached to their visa grant. As such, permanent residents who intend to travel must renew their visa every 5 years. You would apply for Resident Return Visa -Subclass 155 (RRV) in order to travel.
However, as an Australian citizen, you have the privilege to travel and be overseas as long as you like. You would no longer need to apply for an RRV once every five years.
Australian government provide consular support to its citizens in the event of natural disasters or other crisis in your location. The emergency consular assistance is available 24 hours. The government deliver consular assistance via the embassies, high commissions, and consulates around the globe.
See here for the list of Australian embassies and consulates overseas.
In emergencies, Australia consular support may include:
- deploy expert teams to support affected Australians
- liaise with the families of any Australians who are killed or injured
- work with local authorities to support affected Australians
- support Australians trying to leave the area and put them in contact with their families
- provide crisis updates through Smartraveller
- advise of options to leave a dangerous area
- arrange an evacuation, in exceptional circumstances
For more information, please visit the government’s smart traveller website.
Federal government jobs
Interested in working for the federal government? Whilst as a permanent resident, you would have the same work rights as an Australian citizen, you would not be able to apply for federal government jobs. Many federal government departments such as the Australian Defence Force and Australian Federal Police would only accept Australian citizens as employees.
Vote for your political party
Australian citizens can participate in politics. As a citizen, not only are you able to vote for your favourite political party, you may also decide to join politic and run for election.
In fact, in Australia, voting is mandatory for every Australian aged 18 years or over. Failure to vote may incur fines.
No deportation risks
Any resident in Australia has a risk of being deported if they are considered a threat to national security or been in imprison for more than 12 months. This includes Australian permanent residents. However, the government would not be able to deport Australian citizens.
HECS – HELP Loan
As a permanent resident, you may be eligible to pay domestic fees for education. However, you would not have the option of delaying the payment until you have earned a certain income level. For Australian citizens, the HECS-HELP loan is a scheme which allows students to postpone the payment of their university fees. This scheme is available to students with a Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP).
For 2020-21 FY, the compulsory repayment threshold is $46,620. That is, if you earn less than $46,620 you would not need to pay your HECS loan.
Above are just some of the benefits of becoming an Australian citizen.
Your children can become Australian citizens
A child born overseas can be registered as an Australian citizen by descent if at least one of the biological parents was an Australian citizen at the time of the child’s birth. A parent can apply for registration of Australian citizenship by descent on behalf of the child before the child reaches 18 years of age.
Living and working in New Zealand
If you are an Australian citizen, you will usually be allowed to live, work or study in New Zealand and will not need to apply for any type of visa before travelling.