Pros and Cons to Getting Australian Citizenship
Your chance to participate in Australia's future.
- Retaining residency and avoiding deportation
Becoming a citizen is the only way to guarantee you have the right to remain in Australia. PRs are at risk of losing their status if they spend long periods of time outside the Australia or commit certain crimes. The citizenship of a naturalised Australian citizen cannot be revoked for any crime committed after becoming a citizen.
You no longer have to obtain a Resident Return Visa every five years (cost A$300 in early 2012) to prove your continuing right to remain in and re-enter Australia.
- Education costs
As a general rule, only Australian citizens are eligible for deferral of university or other tertiary fees (or a discount for up-front payment).
- Immigration for family members
As at early 2012, there is no significant preference for citizens over settled permanent residents in the sponsorship process. However, there were some significant differences up to the late 1990s and these could be reintroduced.
One difference which does persist is that Australian citizens can sponsor spouses for migration while living outside Australia. Under the law, permanent residents are expected normally to be "usually resident" in Australia.
- Running for political office
Many types of elected positions require the officeholder to be an Australian citizen. Note that you cannot stand for the Federal Parliament as a dual citizen unless you have made all reasonable attempts to divest yourself of that other citizenship.
- Federal jobs
Most federal government jobs, require the applicant to be an Australian citizen.
If a security clearance is needed, with citizenship you can have a higher level, but don't forget that having ties to the UK via friends, family, property etc might still limit the level of clearance you may gain.
- Australian Passport
As an Australian citizen you are entitled to an Australian passport (which may have better visa-free travel) and to consular protection from Australian missions overseas. However, Australian consular protection is not normally available in any other country of which you are a citizen.
- Citizenship for non-Australia born children
As a naturalised Australian you will be able to register children born to you outside Australia (born after you become a citizen) as Australian citizens by descent.
- Treaty Rights
An Australian passport gives full residence rights in New Zealand. PRs also have this right but exercising it may cause complications with losing rights to return to Australia. Also, the right to live in NZ could easily be removed for Australian permanent residents.
Australian citizens with professional occupations have simplified access to work in the United States (E-3 visa).
- Entering Australia
You may use the Australian Passport holders and their families entry channel at Australian ports of entry.
If you want to adopt a child in Australia, some states/territories require that at least one (or both) adoptive parents is an Australian citizen.
- Order of Australia
If you are not an Australian citizen, you may be ineligible for an honour of the Order of Australia.
- Representing Australia
Many international sporting and cultural events, not confined to the Olympics, require that those representing Australia are Australian citizens.
- Dual citizenship
Citizens of some countries may lose their existing citizenship upon becoming Australian citizens, which may or may not be a problem. British citizens do not lose citizenship upon becoming Australian. Some holders of other kinds of British nationality may encounter issues.
- Consular Protection
If you keep your former nationality, the Embassy of your home country will no longer be able to intervene on your behalf with the Australian authorities (since they can't get you out of jail anyway, this is a limited benefit).
- Diplomatic work
In general, an Australian citizen will not be given diplomatic accreditation by the Australian government. What this means is that you cannot generally take a diplomatic position from your native country in Australia (you can work as a "locally engaged" employee but that is all, unless you are prepared to renounce your Australian citizenship). However, the same generally applies for permanent residents of Australia.
- Australian Passport
Australian citizens cannot hold any kind of visa under the Migration Act, even if you have a visa stamp that is purportedly valid. You must as a rule enter Australia on an Australian passport. There is the option of an Australian Declaratory Visa for certain Australian citizens to use a foreign passport.
- Jury Duty
You are obliged to serve on a jury, if called upon.
- Compulsory Voting
Australian citizens resident in Australia must enrol to vote and vote at all elections. Those resident overseas do not need to enrol (and in many cases, cannot do so).
- Defence of Australia
There is currently no military conscription in Australia. Should it be reintroduced, Australian citizens are obliged to "defend Australia, should the need arise." Bear in mind that in that circumstance, permanent residents could also be obliged to serve.
The following are generally not impacted by becoming an Australian citizen, if one is already a permanent resident:
There is no impact on your Australian tax obligations, under current law. (Permanent residents, as a general rule, are taxed the same as Australian citizens).
Permanent residents are not allowed to withdraw superannuation on leaving Australia, so becoming a citizen makes no difference.
- British pensions
Becoming an Australian citizen does not in itself' impact the ability of a permanent resident to access British pension entitlements.
Other obligations that apply to permanent residents (resident in Australia), including Medicare levy + surcharge, obtaining health insurance to avoid Lifetime Health Cover loading, using an Australian driving license, and so on, apply equally to Australian citizens.