Citizenship for Children Born in Australia

Whether a child born in Australia is an Australian citizen depends mostly on two questions:

  1. When were they born?
  2. What was the residency/citizenship status of their parents at time of birth?

Typically, your child will inherit the visa status of the parent that has the most ‘beneficial’ status.

If the child was born in Australia on or after 20 August 1986 they will only be an Australian citizen if:

  • the person’s parent was an Australian citizen or a permanent resident when the person was born, or
  • the person was ordinarily resident in Australia from the day they were born until they were 10 years old.

This means that children born in Australia automatically acquire Australian citizenship if at least one parent is an Australian citizen or permanent resident at the time of the child’s birth. You need to apply for evidence of citizenship.

If you are a permanent resident and your child was born outside of Australia, you will need to apply for a permanent visa in order for the child to enter Australia and remain with you.

Australian citizenship by application

You can apply for Australian citizenship if:

  • you were born outside Australia and at least one of the your’s parents was an Australian citizen
  • if the person was adopted outside Australia in accordance with the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption by at least one Australian citizen, or
  • if you have lived lawfully in Australia for at least 4 years, with at least 12 months as a permanent resident.

In all these situations, you have to apply for citizenship. It is not automatic.

In what other situations is someone already a citizen?

If you were:

  • born in Australia before 20 August 1986 and are an Australian citizen by birth
  • born in Australia on or after 20 August 1986 and one parent was a permanent resident or Australian citizen
  • born in Australia on or after 20 August 1986 and you spent the first 10 years of your life in Australia
  • previously issued with an Australian citizenship certificate (this includes children who are listed on a parent’s certificate)
  • a permanent resident and adopted in Australia on or after 22 November 1984 and became an Australian citizen
  • born in the former Australian Territory of Papua before 16 September 1975 and retained your Australian citizenship
  • born outside Australia before 26 January 1949 to a father who was born in Australia and you arrived in Australia before 1 May 1987 and acquired Australian citizenship.

If one of these situations apply to you, you can apply for evidence of your citizenship.

Dual Citizenship

Australia allows dual citizenship. However, the other country of citizenship may not allow you to keep your existing citizenship.

Processing Times

At time of writing, citizenship by conferral application processing is taking over a year to process. Citizenship by descent is taking 3-5 months and evidence of Australia citizenship takes about a month.

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