After becoming eligible for Australian citizenship and gathering required documents, it was time to start filing the citizenship application. Australian citizenship process reminded me of all the excitement I experienced during the PR process. As though it was not a citizenship application but an expression of interest – same anxiety, similar excitement and a sense of achievement that I made it to this stage despite a lot of challenges.
One (IMMI) Account To Rule Them All
The citizenship application can be filed online or on paper. Filing citizenship application online is the most obvious way unless you are not tech-savvy or fall into the rare category where you must submit a paper application.
Since children below 16 years of age can be included in either of parent’s application, there was no need for a separate application for my daughter. So an application for my wife and me was all that was needed.
To fill up the citizenship application, you need an IMMI account first. You can use the same account that you used during your PR process if it is still active. If not, just create a new IMMI account.
By the way, you don’t need a separate IMMI account for each applicant. You can submit all the citizenship applications (and any other applications such as the one for Return Resident Visa) through one IMMI account.
In my case, my immigration agent created the IMMI account during the PR process, so I didn’t have access to it. So I created a new account for the citizenship application.
Preparing Citizenship Application
The Australian citizenship application is massive 36 page-long and designed in a wizard-like manner a.k.a. step-by-step. You need a few things handy before you start with the application. Here are the things that you will need.
- Your current Passport and previous passports.
- Visa grant letter
- National Identity Card. You can check the preferred identity card for your country here –https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/help-text/eplus/Pages/elp-h1810.aspx.Tip
For Indian nationals, the preferred national identity card is the Aadhar card. As mentioned there, since Aadhar card doesn’t have an expiry date, you can leave it blank. If you don’t have Aadhar card, you can use a Pan card, driver’s license or voter card instead.
- History of addresses where you lived in the past 5 years along with start date and end date. The dates do not need to be exact if you don’t remember them but try to be as accurate as possible. You don’t need to give proof of these addresses either.
- Passport of your child who is included in your application, if any
- Details of children, who are not applying in the same application, if any. Details include name, date of birth, place of birth, current residence country and current citizenship status. So if you have a kid whose name is included in your spouse’s application as co-applicant, you need to include his details in your application as a child who is not applying for citizenship on your application. I know it sounds confusing but it’s an important point to understand.
- Details of your parents including name, date of birth, place of birth and citizenship details. You may also need their passport details if they had visited Australia in the past.
- Details about other family members such as your spouse and siblings
- Transaction Reference Number of your spouse’s citizenship application, if applicable. This is required if you intend to attend a citizenship ceremony together.
- If you held any other visa apart from Permanent Resident visa, you need to keep those visa details handy too.
- Details of all countries where you lived since the 18 years of age. Details include start and end date of stay, country name and reason for the visit.While mentioning details of countries, you should mention the country where you were born and brought up even if you didn’t visit any other country. Many people think that because the application asks about your visit after 18 years of age, you don’t need to mention your own country. However, the section specifically asks for details of all countries where the applicant <b>lived</b> or travelled to since turning the age of 18. In other words, you need to also mention the country where you were living at the time you turned 18.Tip
For the start and end dates of your travel, your previous passports will come in handy as they will contain the entry and/or exit stamps with dates.
- Residential address proof. In my case, it was driver’s license, but you can use a bank statement, rates notice or a utility bill.
- Birth certificate. It is preferable to have a birth certificate as it is the formal proof of your date of birth.Tip
If you don’t have a birth certificate or have one without your name on it, you can provide details of school leaving certificate or 10th mark sheet as a substitute.
- Marriage certificate or another such document in case you changed your name
Filling the citizenship application is a tedious process and I had to switch back and forth between the pages of the application many times to make sure that I had entered everything correctly. Once I reviewed everything (yes, there is a long review page at the end of the application) and was happy that all is good, I clicked submit button. This took me to the payment screen.
Cost of Australian Citizenship
The cost of filing an Australian citizenship application is $285 per application. Thankfully, children under the age of 16 are free as they are part of the same application as their parent.
There are four payment methods by which you can make the payment. There is a surcharge which you might have to pay depending on the payment method you choose.
|Credit or Debit card||Varies between 1.32% to 1.99% depending on the type of card|
I used PayPal being the easiest, time-efficient and relatively cheap option in terms of surcharge.
Though BPAY is free of surcharge, it involves an extra step of going to your bank website or app and making payment. You need to pay within 3 days of submitting the application. In other words, the immigration office must receive the payment within 3 days of application. It can also take them an additional day to match your payment to the application. Not a major issue, but I would rather pay a surcharge than to anxiously wait for my payment to go through.
Once the application was submitted and I paid for it, the next task was to attach documents. There are two categories of documents you need to attach – Required documents and Recommended documents.
Required documents, as obvious from the name, must be submitted along with the application. There are no “ifs” and “buts”. If you don’t provide the required documents, your application will be rejected. Below are some of the required documents.
- Proof of Identity which is usually Passport
- Australian address proof such as Driving license, utility bill or rates notice
- Evidence of Birth i.e. Birth certificate or any other equivalent document
- Certified front and back of Photograph
- Certified Identity Declaration form
- Passport of the child, if applying with you on the same application
- Certified Identity declaration form and photographs of the child, if applicable
- Proof of the first arrival in Australia i.e. scan of the arrival stamp in the passport
- Birth certificate of the child, if applicable
Recommended documents are those which can make your application strong. You can attach them immediately after submitting the application or at a later stage if you don’t have them handy. Below are some of the recommended documents.
- Proof of name change such as marriage certificate, if applicable
- Police Clearance Certificate, if applicable
- Proof of the custody of the child such as birth certificate
I like to front-load the documents i.e. attach them beforehand rather than waiting for the officer to ask for it. So I attached all the documents immediately after submitting the application. You don’t have to though. Like I said above, you can attach required documents first and recommended documents later when you have them.
Now all I had to do was wait till I hear from the case officer. From all accounts, it was going to be a long
winter wait (damn you, Game of Thrones!). But turned out, it was not so bad. More about that in the next instalment.