Australian Citizenship - Special Residence Requirement

by Mark Webster, Acacia Immigration Australia, 28 October 2009

Effective 21 September, the Australian Department of Immigration has introduced the ability for certain people to apply for Australian citizenship, even if they do not meet the usual residence requirement.The new requirement is referred to as the Special Residence Requirement, and may affect people who either:

  • Intend to engage in activities of benefit to Australia, and who are supported by certain organisations; or
  • Are employed in certain occupations which require travel outside Australia
The usual residence requirement for citizenship is very strict - you would in general need to be present in Australia for at least:
  • The last 4 years on any temporary or permanent visa, with a maximum of 12 months overseas in this period; and
  • The last 12 months on a permanent visa, with a maximum of 3 months overseas.
The usual residence for 4 years in Australia is now referred to as the "General Residence Requirement"

Activities of Benefit to Australia

Only certain activities are covered by this exception - activities include:
  • Government work which requires a high level security clearance; or
  • Participation in sporting events (for example the Olympics, Paralympics, Davis Cup or Fed Cup)
The application for citizenship will need to be supported by the head of an approved organisation - this would need to be one of the following: The application must be on the basis that the person requires Australian citizenship to participate in the relevant event. There is a reduced residence requirement in this case - the person needs to be present in Australia for at least:
  • 4 of the last 24 months; and
  • 3 of the last 12 months
The person also needs to have been a permanent resident who is ordinarily resident in Australia for the past 2 years.

Work in Certain Occupations

This exemption applies to people who work only in certain areas, for instance:
  • Crew members of aircraft or ships;
  • Workers on resources installations or sea installations.
The person needs to have been working in the occupation for at least 2 of the last 4 years, and to have regularly travelled because of that work. Again, there is a reduced residence requirement - the person needs to be present in Australia for at least:
  • 16 of the last 48 months; and
  • 4 of the last 12 months
The person also needs to have ordinarily resident in Australia for the past 4 years, and to have held their permanent visa for the last 12 months.

Conclusion

The General Residence Requirements for Australian citizenship are very strict and do disadvantage people who are unable to reside in Australia due to work commitments. Previously, the only exemptions to the residence requirements were situations where:
  • The person has served in the Australian military; or
  • The person has an Australian citizen spouse.
The new changes are quite beneficial to people who need to travel due to work commitments, but only cover very specific occupations - namely people working in the oil and gas industry or transport industry. The changes are also beneficial to elite athletes and people who need security clearance to work in certain government jobs. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about applying for Australian citizenship.

Stay up to date - Subscribe to Immigration News!