An Australian permanent resident and an Australian citizen are not the same thing. Get to know the key differences here as well as the privileges and responsibilities of being an Australian citizen.
Permanent residency visa
An Australian permanent resident is someone who holds a permanent visa but is not a citizen.
A permanent resident can live, work and study without restriction in Australia.
Applying for a permanent residency visa
If you want to apply for permanent residency, there are a number of requirements you need to meet. You can make an application on humanitarian grounds, as a migrant, or part of a family unit.
For more information about how to become a permanent resident, visit the Department of Home Affairs website
Being an Australian citizen means you can say, ‘I am Australian.’ Making Australia a permanent home is the goal of many of Melbourne’s migrants and comes with many privileges and responsibilities.
Becoming an Australian citizen means you are making an ongoing commitment to Australia and everything Australia stands for.
General eligibility criteria for citizenship
Generally, those over the age of 18 who apply for Australian citizenship must:
- have passed a citizenship test (unless over the age of 60)
- be a permanent resident at the time of application, and also, at time of decision
- satisfy the residence requirement
- be likely to reside, or to continue to reside, in Australia or to maintain a close and continuing association with Australia
- be of good character.
Children may also apply for Australian Citizenship, although different requirements apply. Please visit the Department of Home Affairs website
for more information.
Any adult who became a permanent resident on or after 1 July 2007 must have been lawfully residing in Australia for four years immediately before applying for Australian citizenship. This includes:
- 12 months as a permanent resident
- absences from Australia of no more than 12 months
- absences from Australia of no more than three months in the 12 months before applying.
A Citizenship Wizard
is available on the Department of Home Affairs website to help you determine if you meet the residence requirement.
If you satisfy the general eligibility criteria, you will need to pass a test before applying for Australian citizenship. Those covered by other situations (such as those aged under 18 or over age 60, or people who suffer from a substantial impairment or loss of hearing, speech or sight) are not required to sit a test.
The Australian citizenship test has been designed to help future Australian citizens gain an understanding of Australia’s:
- national symbols.
The test is an important part of ensuring you have the capacity to fully participate in the Australian community as a citizen and maximise the opportunities available to you in Australia. It promotes social cohesion and successful integration into the community.
To sit the test you must:
Privileges of Australian citizens
- be an Australian permanent resident
- satisfy the department of your identity during the process of registering for the test
- allow the department to take a photograph of you or provide one yourself.
Being an Australian citizen entitles you to the right to:
Responsibilities of Australian citizens
- live in Australia
- apply for an Australian passport and to leave and re-enter Australia without applying for a resident return visa
- seek assistance from Australian diplomatic representatives while overseas
- work in the public service
- serve in the armed forces
- register as Australian citizens by descent any of your children born overseas after you become an Australian citizen
- stand for Parliament
- vote to elect members of Parliament.
Citizenship also brings with it responsibilities. For example, citizens are required to:
- obey Australian laws
- defend Australia should the need arise
- serve on a jury if called to do so
- enrol on federal and state/territory electoral registers
- vote in elections.
More information about the privileges and responsibilities of Australian citizenship can be found on the Department of Home Affairs website