This section contains an overview of the new changes to Australian citizenship legislation contained within the Australian Citizenship Act 2007.
Terminology has been changed in the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 from the ‘grant of citizenship’ to ‘citizenship by conferral’.
The introduction of a citizenship test on 1 October 2007 means that people satisfying the general eligibility criteria will need to pass a test before applying for Australian citizenship by conferral.
See: Citizenship Test
The new residence requirements for in the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 mean that applicants will need:
- four (4) years lawful residence in Australia immediately prior to making an application for Australian citizenship with at least 12 months as a permanent resident, and
- absences from Australia of no more than 12 months in total in the four (4) years prior to application, and no more than ninety (90) days in the 12 month permanent residency period prior to application.
See: Questions and answers on the new residence requirements
Spouses and de facto partners
I am the spouse/de facto partner of an Australian citizen? What does the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 mean for me?
The Australian Citizenship Act 2007 requires that spouses or de facto partners of Australian citizens meet the same criteria as other adult applicants for citizenship.
However, a discretion has been introduced to waive part or all of the residence requirements for the permanent resident spouse or de facto partner of an Australian citizen who is outside Australia if they can demonstrate a close connection with Australia during that period. Associated with this new discretion, a new provision enables the approval of such applications where the spouse is outside Australia.
Children of former citizens
Eligibility for citizenship by conferral has been extended to persons born outside Australian to a responsible parent who ceased to be an Australian citizen under section 17 of the Australian Citizenship Act 1948. The person must be of good character.
I was a former citizen who lost my citizenship under section 17 of the old Act. I gave birth to my child when I was no longer a citizen. Does the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 provide for my child?
Yes. There are many former Australian citizens, who like you only learnt of the loss of their Australian citizenship when they attempted to register their children as Australian citizens by descent or sought to renew their Australian passport.
And like you, many Australians overseas were not aware of section 17. As you would now be aware, section 17 was an operation of law provision under which people lost their Australian citizenship if they 'did any act or thing the sole or dominant purpose of which and the effect of which was to acquire the citizenship of another country'.
Your child is eligible for citizenship provided they are of good character if over 18 years of age.
I was a former citizen who renounced my Australian citizenship, so that I could retain another citizenship. After I renounced I gave birth to my child. Does the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 provide for my child?
No. Unlike many people who lost their citizenship under the operation of law section 17 provision, people who renounced their Australian citizenship knew that they had ceased to be Australian citizens.
They could have had no reasonable expectation of access to Australian citizenship for children born after they had renounced their Australian citizenship.
People born in Papua prior to Independence
Eligibility for citizenship by conferral has been extended to persons born in Papua before 16 September 1975 to a parent who was born in Australia as we now know it and who was an Australian citizen at the time of the person's birth. The person must be of good character.
Age raised for English Proficiency Exemption
The age at which adult applicants for Australian citizenship are exempt from the requirement to have a basic knowledge of English has been raised to 60 years.