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Citizenship or Permanent Residence?

Every time we post something about Citizenship, we get contacted by people saying they want to apply for Australian Citizenship. But to be able to apply for Citizenship, you must, in most cases, have permanent residence first. So what you are really looking for is advice on how to obtain permanent residence, and not citizenship.

On top of that, a lot of people think they are the same thing either because they can’t understand the difference, or because they have heard the two terms being used to describe the right to live in Australia permanently.

Beware the mixing up of these terms, specially if it’s coming from your migration agent. Getting these 2 mixed up is a clear sign of inexperience and/or lack of knowledge. If you and your friends don’t know the difference, fair enough, you are not experts. But a considerable number of people have told us recently about migration professionals getting the terms mixed up, which should ring alarm bells… these professionals are required by law to have a sound knowledge of migration law and this is basic stuff…

There are temporary visas and there are permanent visas. As the name says it, temporary visas allow you to live in Australia only temporarily, for a determined period of time, be it for 1 week or for 4 years. Regardless of how long you are allowed to stay, a temporary visa always has an expiry date on it, before which you need to apply for another visa (if you qualify for one) or leave the country.

Permanent visas on the other hand, grant you permanent residence, which is the right to stay in Australia indefinitely: if you never leave after being granted a permanent visa, you will not be breaking any law and can literally stay in Australia forever.

Now, citizenship, is not the same as permanent residence. Once someone becomes a permanent resident of Australia, they have the choice, if they meet all the requirements, to become Australian Citizens. There are many people who live in Australia permanently but who don’t choose to become citizens, and that is fine, they can still live here as permanent residents only. But what is important to know is that you cannot get citizenship before getting permanent residence.

So when a client living in Australia on a temporary visa, such as a Student Visa, comes to us and asks how they can obtain Australian citizenship, we explain to them that, first, they need to become permanent residents by applying for and being granted a permanent visa. You don’t apply for citizenship straight from a temporary visa – that is not possible (except for some New Zealand citizens).

And if a migration professional is telling you about how to “get citizenship”, be careful.

A lot of people also come to us confused about permanent visas and permanent residence,  as they are not the same thing even though they appear to be. Permanent residence is what you get when you have a permanent visa approved.

Your permanent This is because all permanent visas have an expiry date on it, normally after 5 years. You see, when you get a permanent visa, you were granted permanent residence, which as I mention above, is the right to live in Australia permanently (forever). The permanent visa however, ends after a period.

Before you freak out, let us explain: your visa is your travel document. So for the 5 years after being granted a permanent visa (and permanent residence), you can travel out and back into Australia as many times as you want. Your residence here is permanent, but that document (your permanent visa) has an end date. When it ends, you can get a Resident Return Visa (RRV) to leave the country and re-enter, but the department of immigration only grants that RRV to applicants who can show they have lived here for a minimum period of time or who can show evidence of having significant ties to Australia, in case they haven’t lived here for that minimum period of time.

If a permanent resident applies for citizenship however, their permanent  visa ceases to exist and with that, there are no more expiry dates.

Confusing indeed! We hope this ends the confusion out there, and you get the right information about this topic.

Please contact us on visas@bravomigration.com.au or call us on 9216 6600 and book an appointment with us!

Erica Carneiro
Co-Founder, Director and Registered Migration Agent 0532487