Why become an Australian citizen? Here’s 8 things Australian citizens can do that permanent residents can’t.
Hassle-free travel in and out of Australia
Although permanent residents can stay in Australia as long as they wish, they do have to apply for a Resident Return Visa every 5 years so they can leave the country and come back. Their right to retain permanent residence is dependent on their continued residence in Australia and their substantial ties to the country. Australian citizens however, can leave and return without hassle. All you would need to do is present your Australian passport or citizenship certificate when you reach Australian Customs.
Visa-free travel to 170 countries
After becoming an Australian Citizen, you will become eligible to apply for an Australian passport. An Australian passport allows you access into 170 countries visa-free or with visa on arrival. According to the Annual Passport Index, Australian passports are rated one of the world’s best for travel freedom. You’ll even be able to fast-track through the SmartGates at Australian airports.
Get Australian consular help while overseas
Australian citizens finding themselves in trouble overseas can seek consular assistance from the country’s local Australian embassy or High Commission. This can provide peace of mind if any injuries, mishaps or accidents occur while travelling abroad in an unfamiliar country. Australian consulates or embassies can:
- Issue replacement or emergency passports if lost or stolen for a fee
- Support you if you are in hospital, have been involved in an accident, have a serious illness, or are the victim of a crime/assault
- Provide details of local hospitals and doctors in a medical emergency
- Provide details of lawyers and interpreters
- Consult with you if arrested in prison and inform your family if you wish for them to
- Give advice if a loved one dies overseas
- Provide emergency loans in exceptional situations
Your children can also become Australian citizens
Australia is known for its prosperous, democratic culture and easy-going lifestyle. If your child was born overseas, they too can become an Australian citizen by descent once you become a citizen. This means they will have the same rights and privileges as any Australian-born child.
Access to financial assistance for education
Although permanent residents can enrol in university in Australia as a domestic student and pay lower fees than international students, they still cannot access HECS-HELP financial assistance programs. HECS-HELP is the Federal Government’s Higher Education Loan Program. It allows you to defer your study fees until you are earning enough to begin repaying it and is only available to Australian citizens.
As an Australian citizen, if you (or your children) would like to attend university and can’t afford the tuition fees, you can apply for financial support through HECS-HELP or through the Government’s Study Assist programs, such as scholarships or student income support.
The right to vote and shape Australia’s future
Australian citizens over 18 years of age have the right and responsibility to vote in Government elections. You’ll have the same opportunities as fellow Australians to voice your views and become an active part of the democratic process. And you can even stand for election as a local councillor, state or federal MP, or senator.
Work in Federal Government and Defence jobs
Permanent residence gives you the right to work in Australia without visa restrictions. Becoming an Australian citizen however, means you will also have the option to work in Federal Government sectors. Federal Government sectors that require Australian citizenship are:
- Australian Federal Police
- Australian Border Force
- Australian Defence Force
- Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Options to live in New Zealand
As an Australian citizen, you can also enjoy the benefits that come with having strong ties to our neighbouring country, New Zealand. Apart from the freedom of choosing to live anywhere in Australia, Australian citizens can also choose to move permanently to New Zealand in most cases.
Am I eligible for Australian Citizenship?
If you’re interested in applying for Australian citizenship, the first step is to find out if you are eligible under current legislation, which will soon change on 1 July 2018. If you have been an Australian permanent resident for at least one year and meet the additional eligibility requirements, get a free assessment of your eligibility here or contact our Registered Migration Agents on 08 9221 3388 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are eligible for Australian citizenship, you may wish to consider applying as soon as possible, as legislation changes from 1 July 2018 may impact whether you remain eligible. For further details, read our article explaining the proposed citizenship changes on 1 July 2018.
About the Author
Sheila Woods is an established registered migration agent with over ten years experience. She was recently nominated for the 40 under 40 Business awards and is the Managing Director of Interstaff and Immigracious. Listen to Sheila’s interview on Perth’s 6PR radio station about the recent 457 visa changes.
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