Dual Citizenship Australia

The Commonwealth of Australia is a constitutional democracy based and is governed with a parliamentary system of government. The Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth II, is the Queen of Australia and is represented at a state level by the Governor-General.

Prior to 1939, however, Australians had the status of British subjects and shared a common nationality code with the United Kingdom and countries of the Commonwealth.

Over the years, Australia had rather stern laws on dual citizenship in regards to the conditions under which an Australian citizen could keep his citizenship while acquiring another. This however, has changed today, and having a second citizenship or acquiring a second does not affect one’s citizenship status in Australia.

Establishing Australian citizenship as a new national identity was made effective on January 26, 1949 by the Nationality and Citizenship Act. Upon implementation, all persons who were born in Australia assumed Australian citizenship through naturalization, while persons born in New Guinea automatically became citizens of Australia. Under this act, Australian citizenship was conferred to persons born overseas to an Australian father once they had entered the country with Australian permanent residency permits or already had Australian permanent residence for at least 5 years. Additionally, women who were married to Australian men and were holders of permanent residence entry permits for Australia became citizens of Australia.

However, after August 19, 1986 the automatic issuance of Australian citizenship was discontinued. Thereafter, Australian citizenship was only granted to a child by birth only if he was born in Australia to an Australian parent or a permanent resident. Australian citizenship is only automatically conferred to children on their 10th birthday if they were born in Australia to non Australian parents, were resident in Australia up till that age and had not yet been granted Australian nationality.

Stateless or abandoned children born in Australia that are not entitled to any other citizenship may (in some circumstances) be registered as Australian citizens.

The ability to register as Australian citizens was granted to British subjects between the period of January 26, 1949 and November 30, 1973 as long as they had residency in Australia for at least one year. Although the Australian naturalization process for persons who were not British subjects was much more severe, in December 1973, the Australian Citizenship Act required every British subject to meet the same residency requirement before becoming a naturalized Australian citizen. Rather than a residency period of 1 year, all applicants were to live in Australia for at least 3 years, although in November of 1984, only 2 years were required.

Australia’s nationality laws were modified in 2007. The Australian Citizenship Act stated that as of July 1 2007, anyone applying for naturalization in Australia was expected to have legal permanent resident status for at least 4 years before they could qualify as an applicant for Australia’s citizenship through naturalization. Immediately before applying, applicants are expected to have spent the last 12 months in Australia, good working knowledge of the English language, an understanding of the responsibilities and rights of being a citizen of Australia, continue residing in Australia on a permanent basis and not have been involved in any illegally activity during the period of permanent residency in Australia. These requirements, however, are not applicable to children below 16 who can be included on the parent’s application. 17 and 16 year olds are treated as adults.

The residency requirements that were established in 1984 are valid for persons who had permanent residency in Australia before July 1, 2007 up till July 1, 2010 if they fulfilled the permanent residence requirements of at least 2 years of the 5 stipulated before qualifying to apply for Australian naturalization, and had remained in Australia for a minimum of 12 months before the date of application.

Persons who are exempt from the standard residency demands are: children born to former citizens of Australia, veterans of Australia’s Defence Force, stateless persons, persons born in Papua before Independence in 1975, former Australian citizens, Australians born and children who were legally adopted by Australians.

Acquiring Australian citizenship by ancestry is possible under the condition that the applicant is a British subject who was born outside of Australia before January 26, 1949 to an Australian father, or was born to an Australian citizen at the time of birth. In the event that the applicant’s parent resided in Australia for at least two years, did not acquire any other citizenship and was also Australian by descent, citizenship could also be acquired by descent.

Children may obtain Australian citizenship if they are adopted by an Australian parent on or after November 22, 1984. The child, however, must have permanent residence in Australia.

Children are not entitled to become citizens of Australia if the parent had lost his or her Australian citizenship prior to the child’s birth. In this case, the child is, however, eligible for a special “conferral” of Australian citizenship prior to his birth in conformity with section 17 of the 1948 Act.

The loss of Australian citizenship generally occurred whenever someone renounced his Australian citizenship upon the acquisition of a second nationality anytime between January 26, 1949 and April 4, 2002. Before November 22, 1984, a person was not deprived of Australian citizenship if he acquired a second citizenship (dual citizenship) while he was present in Australia, nor was his citizenship taken from him if it occurred as a result of another activity such as applying for a second passport or permanent residence in another country. These regulations were changed, however, in April 2002, when Australians became freely able of acquiring a second (dual) citizenship without having to lose theirs.

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