Citizenship.

(Updated 24/2/2002)

In the ordinary course of events you cannot even apply for citizenship until you have lived in Australia for 2 years. I thought we could get the ball rolling a couple of months before but if you haven't reached the second anniversary of your arrival you cannot do a thing except get hold of the forms. (There are some exceptions, e.g. your spouse is Australian; you used to have Australian citizenship etc. Please check this for your own satisfaction.) This is what form 1027i says.

You may be eligible for grant of Australian citizenship if:

If you have been in the fortunate position to make a free choice to come to Australia, as opposed to fleeing a repressed country for fear of your life, you will probably want to "consummate your espousal" with this country. (I can understand refugees being not quite so keen.) Taking citizenship is that obvious step. Information about the process is available at the DIMA website, www.dimia.gov.au or by phoning 131 880 (Australia). It's a "press button 1 for this and 2 for that" type of service but you can request an immigration pack which gives you all the information plus the relevant form. You will need your identity verified by the usual passport type of people, but they must be Australian citizens and known you for at least 12 months. A list of 27 occupations is included on the form. (Teachers will probably be the most likely for those of us with school-age kiddies.) There is a fee to pay (surprise surprise!) currently $120 each. Kids are free.

The rights and obligations citizenship confers upon you are not Earth-shattering, the main one being the right, and indeed legal requirement (enforced by pretty stiff fines), to vote. You have to know the rights and responsibilities and will be asked about them at an interview when you apply for citizenship. I don't think the exact wording matters but obviously the closer you are to the words the easier it will be to convince the immigration officer of your good faith. We coined a mnemonic DOJED V PPPEC. This is what form 1027i has to say.

Responsibilities:

As an Australian citizen, you will be required to:

Subject to the same rights and exemptions as Australian-born citizens

(OK, I muddled them around a bit when inventing the mnemonic, but the responsibilities is the DOJED bit.)

Privileges:

As an Australian citizen, you will benefit from entitlement, under Australian law, to the same rights as all Australian citizens:

 

Please don't get caught out by not knowing this stuff when you apply. The immigration officers obviously take their job seriously and they expect you to take your application to be citizens of their country just as seriously. You will be asked whether you want to take the oath or the affirmation when you make your citizenship pledge at the ceremony, the only difference being that the oath includes the words "under God".

After the application has been lodged, and nothing adverse shows up on their police check that they do there and then, they will tell you that you have met the eligibility criteria and your details will be passed on to your local council. After a couple of months you will be invited to attend a ceremony. There are around three ceremonies per year typically, with the big one on Australia day (26 January). At the ceremony there's a certain amount of introductory speeches and perhaps entertainment, certainly if it is the Australia day festivities. At some point you will be called up to the stage to make your pledge. You will be given a card with the words on, so you don't have to memorise them, but it's not a bad idea to know them in advance in case you find being on stage nerve-racking! (Click here to see the pledge) Our friends were called up as part of a group of about ten and they all mumbled their way through, quite inaudible except for Daniel who got a special mention by the Mayor for saying the oath in the "proudest way he has heard in 27 years". We were called up in family units. For some that meant taking the microphone individually. For us, we had safety in numbers as there are four of us. (Click here for picture.) The most important thing you get is a certificate. That is your prima facea evidence of citizenship so keep it safe. It's also an impressive document. I've scanned a copy in but have made several adjustments to thwart anybody who might think of making a copy for their own purposes, so please, don't put yourself in any such embarrassing situation. It gives the general idea but wouldn't fool anybody. (Click here to view.)

So here we are, something like four years after starting the dream, proud, happy Australians. I guess its "Pommies to Aussies!"

 

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