You may be eligible to apply to become an Australian citizen by descent if you were born outside Australia, and one of your parents was an Australian citizen at the time of your birth. If your Australian citizen parent was also a citizen by descent, then that parent must have spent at least two years in Australia.
You will need to hold current permanent residency of Australia, have been living in Australia for 4 years immediately before applying, be likely to continue to reside in Australia, satisfy character requirements, and meet the residence requirement. The residence requirement is based on the time you have lived in Australia and the time you have spent outside Australia. If you fulfill the residence requirement and are eligible for citizenship, then the next step is to take the citizenship test (required for applicants aged 18 to 59 years old). After passing the citizenship test, an application for citizenship can be lodged and once approved you will be invited to attend the ceremony to pledge your commitment to Australia.
**It is possible to hold dual or multiple citizenship with Australia as long as the law of your other countries of citizenship also allow. People can become dual citizens automatically upon grant of Australian citizenship, or after being granted citizenship of another country.**
SKILLED MIGRANT (INDEPENDENT):
Skilled Migrant visas are for qualified people between the ages of 18 and 49, who have skills listed on the Skilled OccupationList (SOL) meaning they are in high demand in Australia. This visa allows you to live and work in Australia on a permanent basis and receive associated benefits as a permanent resident such as Medicare. Visa eligibility for an Independent Skilled Migrant is based on a points system called Skill Select, and an applicant’s points will depend on a number of factors including age, skills/experience, occupation and English language (find AUS Points Test here). A Skills Assessment will need to be completed by the relevant authority associated within your occupation to determine the equivalency of your qualifications and you must meet any necessary registration and licensing requirements to work within your field in Australia. As of July 1, 2012 all applicants must first submit an Expression of Interest (EOI), and based on points and eligibility, an invitation to apply is required to proceed further with a residency application. Selections are completed twice per month, and a submitted EOI is valid for a period of 2 years; after which time it will be withdrawn and a new EOI application would need to be submitted.
SPONSORED (SKILLED MIGRANT):
Sponsorship for permanent residency is also available through the nomination of an employer or Australian state/territory government. Sponsored skilled permanent residency requires an occupation on the Consolidated Skilled Occupation List (CSOL) to be filled by qualified individuals. Obtaining permanent residence through sponsorship still requires a Skill Select EOI, however with a sponsoring employer or government in place you would receive automatic selection once a nomination is received. A Skills Assessment is required as well as the necessary licensing/registration required for your occupation in Australia. This category can be beneficial to applicants that may not be able to meet all requirements as an Independent Skilled Migrant, because under extenuating circumstances employers may seek an exemption from the minimum skill, language or age eligibility requirements. Sponsorship from an Australian state/territory government will also add an additional 10 points to your EOI score. Generally a permanent visa being acquired through employer or government sponsorship, will require an agreement the visa holder remain employed with their sponsor for a minimum of 2 years following grant of their visa.
There are a number of migration options for partners, spouses, children, parents and other family members of Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents or eligible New Zealand citizens. Generally full work and study rights will be granted with family visas, and access to Medicare medical benefits.
- Partner / Spouse
Allows for people to enter and stay in Australia with their de-facto Australian citizen partner or spouse. De Facto relationships need to be proven as genuine and ongoing, with evidence such as joint financials/accounts, shared ownerships, and meeting the 12 month cohabitation requirement. Usually an initial provisional visa of 2 years is granted, followed by permanent residency of the relationship is still ongoing (2 year waiting period is waived if the couple has been married for 5 years or more). The relationship may be heterosexual or same sex, and an application may also include any dependent children.
Parents may be able to migrate to Australia if they have a child in Australia who is an Australian citizen, permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen. The main requirements for a parent visa is that the applicant is 65 years or above and also at least half of their children are permanently resident in Australia. Others include the standard health and character requirements. Both temporary and permanent parent visas are available for an initial application; temporary visas are granted for 2 years, so if permanent residency is desired a permanent application must be submitted anytime before the temporary visa expires (temporary parent visas cannot be extended).
For dependent children, orphan relatives or adopted children. This visa is for children under 25 years of age who want to enter and remain in Australia with their parent. The child must be wholly dependent on their sponsoring parent. All children under 18 years of age are considered to be dependent, but if a child is over 18, to be considered dependent they must provide evidence that they are financially dependent for their basic needs of food, shelter and clothing. The child must also be single, and must not currently (or ever been) married, in a de-facto relationship or engaged. A stepchild can only be included in the child visa category if the stepchild is under 18 years of age and the sponsoring step-parent is no longer the partner of the child’s parent, but has a legal responsibility to care for the child.
- Remaining Relative
For people to join their parents or siblings (including step family) who are their only remaining close relatives, and they are usually resident in Australia. The applicant would be sponsored by their family member in Australia, who must give written evidence that they will support their family member for their first 2 years in Australia. Other dependent relatives may also be included in the application.
NEW ZEALAND FAMILY:
The purpose of this visa is to allow non-New Zealand citizens to travel to and live in Australia with a New Zealand citizen family member who is a Special Category visa holder (444). The Special Category subclass 444 visa is a temporary visa automatically granted to New Zealand citizens who arrive in Australia who do not hold a permanent visa. This visa is for family members of Special Category visa holders who are not eligible for a Special Category visa because they are not New Zealand citizens. This is a temporary visa and it is valid for up to 5 years.
ASYLUM / REFUGEE:
Asylum seekers are found to be owed permanent protection to resettle in Australia under the Refugees Convention, if they satisfy the primary requirement of having a well founded fear of suffering or persecution in their home country and cannot return. There are various subclasses under the protections category, including Refugee, Emergency Rescue, Humanitarian and Women at Risk.
VISITOR / TOURIST:
Tourist visas are for the purpose of visiting Australia for a holiday, sightseeing, social or recreational reasons, to visit relatives, friends or for other short term non-employment purposes. Tourist visas are generally granted for stays of up to 3 months per visit over a 12 month period. You may not work whilst holding a tourist visa, however study for up to 3 months is permitted. There are 4 subclasses of tourist visas which carry slightly different eligibility requirements and conditions.
WORKING HOLIDAY: The Working Holiday visa allows young people aged 18-30 to have an extended holiday in Australia that is supplemented by short-term casual employment for up to 12 months. You may work full-time in any occupation while in Australia, however you may only work with any given employer for a maximum period of 6 months within the validity of the visa; study for up to 4 months is also permitted. Generally you may only obtain 1 Working Holiday visa in a lifetime, however you could be eligible for a 2nd if certain eligibility requirements are met (suchas completing 3 months of specified work in regional Australia). Not all countries participate in this working holiday reciprocal agreement, so you can check your eligibility for your country of citizenship at Working Holiday 417 or Work and Holiday 462.
STUDENT VISAS: Student visa categories are available for all levels of study in Australia including primary, high school, University, post graduate research and English language courses. The duration of this visa is generally granted for the length of the course in which the applicant is enrolled in Australia. Once the course of study has commenced, the visa holder may also work no more than 20 hours per week, and unlimited hours during scheduled breaks. Eligible family members may also be able to travel to Australia with the visa holder; criteria for eligibility will depend on the particular visa subclass. Generally dependent family members are also allowed to work 20 hours per week (unlimited if the visa holder is doing a post graduate course), and partners of the visa holder can also study for up to 3 months.
WORK VISAS: These visas are for qualified people who have had an offer of employment from an eligible Australian employer and have an occupation that is on the Consolidated Skilled Occupation List (CSOL). Eligibility requires that both the sponsoring employer and visa applicant meet a number of criteria including minimum salary requirements, specific qualifications and skills set, English language, health and character requirements. These visas are temporary, generally valid for the duration of an employment contract up to a maximum of 4 years.
ENTREPRENEUR / INVESTOR or RETIREMENT:
This category is for applicants who can demonstrate they have been or have the ability to actively participate in business, or an investment capacity of at least AUD$1.5 million that will result in a significant contribution to Australia's economic development.
These categories will generally begin as a temporary visa but can progress to permanent residency.
Citizens of New Zealand do not require an advance visa to enter Australia. Upon arrival to Australia, a New Zealander of good health and character will automatically be issued a Special Category subclass 444 visa, which will allow them rights to live and work in Australia indefinitely. Although New Zealand citizens can automatically be granted a visa to live in Australia, this is considered a temporary visa, therefore a New Zealander will not have all the rights of a permanent resident unless they apply based on their eligibility as a skilled migrant or other permanent category.