- Adnan Abidi/Reuters
Like Canada, New Zealand, and France, Australia was a popular fantasy destination among Americans looking for a fresh start in the wake of the 2016 presidential election.
And now that it’s summer, many more are likely thinking of moving south to enjoy the mild Australian winter.
For those who want to make the leap and become a naturalized Australian, there are a few things to know ahead of time, such as the requirements for permanent residency and criteria to gain full citizenship.
Here’s how to move to Australia and become an Australian citizen.
Be at least 16 years old — unless your parent qualifies.
Applicants can gain citizenship through several different routes, but each hinges on the age of the applicant.
People who are 18 or older can apply as adults. People who are 16 or 17 can apply on their own, but they must be already have permanent residence status (more on that in a bit).
People 15 and under and must be a permanent resident and “living with a responsible parent or an unaccompanied humanitarian minor,” according to Moving to Australia.
Decide what kind of permanent residence visa you qualify for.
- Jason Reed/Reuters
Like many countries, Australia relies on a residency system that proves immigrants have family or work waiting for them in the country.
There are several ways to gain permanent residency, which are required to apply for citizenship. Each type of visa comes with different costs.
The most common route is through an Australian employer who sponsors skilled candidates to come over. “Skilled” is defined by a specific points system created by the Australian government. In these cases, the company will bear the cost, which starts at $2,870.
Business owners and investors can also apply for work visas. Investors need to have at least $1.73 million (AUD$1.5 million) invested for four years just to apply (the application costs an additional $1,740). Business owners can apply for the same price.
Or maybe you have family or a spouse in Australia, in which case …
- Thomas Peter/Reuters
… you’ll want to apply for the corresponding visa. Australia has a number of options for parents, children, caretakers, adoption, last-remaining relatives, and partners. Costs can vary.
It costs $1,270 for caretakers to apply, while the cost for adult children bringing over a parent starts at $15,400. The high cost avoids a much lengthier process that can take up to 30 years in the non-expedited route, which costs at least $4,700.
In either case, you’ll need to sign the Australian Values Statement, a document that affirms you will act legally and in accordance with the country’s principles, such as individual liberty and Parliamentary democracy.
Decide if you want to hire an agent to help you apply.
If you find yourself looking for more guidance, you can hire an Australian migration agent registered with the Office of Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA).
These MARA agents can’t expedite your application or increase your chances of getting accepted. But they can look at your background and goals to decide which route is the one worth taking.
Their fees are available to see on the MARA website.
Stay in Australia for four years.
Once you’ve received your permanent resident status, a journey that can take anywhere from nine months to multiple years, residents who wish to become citizens need to spend at least four years in Australia.
It’s a chance to contribute to Australia society, integrate into the culture, and gain a full sense of what life will be like as a naturalized citizen.
As a permanent resident, you’ll have access to universal healthcare and can work, study, and travel anywhere throughout Australia’s six states.
There are some exceptions to who is eligible for citizenship.
- David Gray/Reuters
In rarer cases, people can gain citizenship in other ways.
You are eligible by default if you are the spouse or partner of an Australian citizen, a New Zealand citizen living in Australia, the child of a former Australian, a refugee or humanitarian entrant, or if you were born in Papua New Guinea before independence in 1975.
Brush up on your English and Australian values.
- David Gray/Reuters
If you’re really in it for the long haul and make it four years as permanent resident, you’ll still need to pass the language and citizenship tests.
The language test proves candidates have “competent English language listening, speaking, reading and writing skills.” They’ll need to pass the language test before sitting down for the written test.
The written test includes questions about Australian history, government, and the privileges afforded to all citizens.
Most applicants are also required to recite a citizenship pledge, which affirms their allegiance to Australia.
Prepare for your new life as an Australian.
- Courtesy Michelle Miller
By the time you’ve decided to spend at least four years in Australia, you’ll want to have figured out the local climate.
To begin with, Australia is in the Earth’s southern hemisphere, so the seasons are flipped relative to countries in the north.
Climate also varies widely depending on the region. Southern regions are more oceanic, meaning cooler summers and mild winters. Temperatures get more tropical as you move north.
Make sure you know which part you’ll live in before you invest in a heavy jacket or board shorts.
Embrace your new life!
- Adnan Abidi/Reuters
There is a lot to get romantic over in Australia. Citizens hold cricket and Australian football near to their hearts – not to mention the beaches and sweeping views of Australian outback.
The country also prides itself on its progressive approach to democracy with mandatory voting. Each election day, the country hosts weenie roasts known as “sausage sizzles” to lure people to the polls and avoid paying a fine for abstaining. It’s led to record-high voter turnout.
It’s just one of the many perks of your newfound – and hard-earned – status as an Australian.