By – Dr Chandrika Subramaniyan
With the British donated English, we Indians think that anything we read will make sense to us, including Legal documents and guidelines. That’s why most of us tend to do migration application without any proper consultation with an industry specialist. Being a complicated process, migration process is no longer an easy task. In the recent past, citizenship applications are also becoming complicated even though they look like a simple and straight forward online application.
One should know the underpinning principles and key issues before starting to apply for citizenship.
There are a number of issues that can arise during the citizenship application process. Therefore, it is necessary to provide a complete immigration history and make sure that all information is up to date and complete, so that the application is successful.
One of the major issues which may cripple the success of the application is CHARACTER ISSUE, which we will discuss in detail and the second one is DEBT.
First will have a look at the application process in general
Step 1 Meet the eligibility criteria.
- He or She need to be aged 18 years or over and under 60 years of age.
- Must be a permanent resident of Australia.
- Must meet and satisfy the resident requirement as prescribed.
- Must show that they will continue to residence and their association in Australia.
- Must meet character criteria.
Step 2 Residence requirement
Currently, applicants should meet the requirement of living in Australia for a minimum for 4 years prior to applying for their citizenship. They are also required to have been a permanent resident for at least 12 months of the 4 year period.
Step 3 Citizenship test
Citizenship is approved only after passing the citizenship test, which the applicant can prepare well in advance using the available tools. E.g.: www.border.gov.au/trav/citi.
Step 4 Required documents
Applicants are required to provide number of identification documents and proof of good character.
Any document available in language other than English will need officially translated by a NAATI (National Accreditation Authority of Translators and Interpreters) accredited translator.
Step 5 Application preparation
Need to be careful about completing the application, in particular about the character questions
Step 6 lodging the application
Applications can be lodged either online or by postal with associated fee.
Step 7 & 8 Attend citizenship interview and test
The interview will be approximately for two hours to confirm your eligibility and identity. All applicants need to attend the citizenship interview and test. You will be required to present the original documents to the officer including identification documents.
Identification Documentation- includes name change certificate if documents are existing with different names, please ensure name change certificates, statutory declarations are in place.
Step 9 Notification of the department’s decision
Once the above steps are completed the final decision will be sent within 3-6 months.
Step 10 Attend a citizenship ceremony
The ceremony will take place within 6 months of receiving your approval. You must attend a ceremony within 12 months after the approval to avoid the risk of being cancelled.
Character – is an imperative part in finalising the citizenship application process. Depending on the past criminal conviction or blemish immigration history, an officer may decline to grant citizenship.
Therefore, all applicants need to fully disclose all information relating to any of the issues in the past that may affect the citizenship process. Failing to provide such critical information or if there is insufficient information may lead to refusal.
Residency requirements insists that Applicant should have spent a minimum for FOUR years living in Australia after grant of the visa and out of which applicant has had the permanent residency for at least 12 months.
In case, if you do not meet the residency requirement, it is possible to submit waivers for the residency requirement, which needs expertise.
The second issue which may cripple the citizenship application is DEBT. Examples of debts to the Commonwealth include unpaid detention costs review application fees, costs orders in favour of the Commonwealth government made against the visa applicant in an Australian court, costs incurred in the applicant’s previous removal or deportation from Australia or debts to a Commonwealth department or agency (e.g. Centrelink, Australian Taxation Office, AUSAID).
If there is any outstanding debt to the commonwealth, it may cause decline of the application. Applicant should pay the debt before applying for their citizenship. Again if the applicant’s financial position is at risk, we need to present a submission, which needs expertise.
Dr Chandrika Subramaniyan
MA M Phil PhD LLB LLM MCSD MAICD
Migration Agent (MARN 0534196)
Solicitor, Supreme Court of NSW and High Court
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