Common Reasons for Refusal of an Australian Citizenship Application

So you’ve been an Australian permanent resident for a while now and you’re thinking of making the next big leap… citizenship. It’s a big decision, but you’ll have to consider more than just whether you can stand to live in Australia’s perfect climate forever.  A total of 4,151 applications for citizenship by conferral were refused in 2016-17. We’re going to break down for you why that happens, so you can avoid it when you decide to apply for your Australian citizenship.


In 2017-18, a total of 80,649 people become Australian citizens by conferral from at least 180 different countries. There are many benefits of becoming an Australian citizen:

  • making use of consulate services if one is experiencing difficulties while abroad.
  • travelling in out of Australia without the burden of a costly Resident Return visa.
  • an entitlement to vote.
  • accessing certain student loans and medical facilities.
  • applying for jobs in the Defence Forces and the Public Service.

The most common reasons for refusal of Australian citizenship are outlined below.


Failing the citizenship test

Although the majority of applicants do pass the citizenship test on the first attempt, a major reason for a citizenship application refusal is not passing the citizenship test. This accounted for around 1,800 of applications denied in 2016/17. So, study up!


Failure to prove identity

The Department needs to be able to verify your identity for your citizenship application to be processed. As part of the process, you need to provide a photograph and a completed identity declaration signed by an existing Australian citizen who is not related to the applicant and who meets other eligibility criteria. Other verifying documents you provide need to be accurate and genuine, and align in terms of address details, spelling of names and the like.


Failure to meet character requirements

To get Australian citizenship, you must satisfy the Department that you are of good character. This is evidenced by providing a clear National Police Check, or overseas penal clearance certificate from countries you have spent time in, or declaration of any convictions. It is a requirement to provide to the Department whether you’ve has been convicted of a criminal offence or received a fine, suspended sentence or a period of imprisonment. Citizenship can denied if a serious offence is deemed to have been committed.


Even minor traffic offences can impact a citizenship application if there are multiple driving offences or if you have outstanding fines.   Non-disclosure of any convictions may indicate to the Department a deliberate ‘pattern of dishonesty.’ The Department may also check against any involvement in overseas extremist organisations.


Failure to meet residency requirements

Are you eligible to apply for citizenship?  An Australian permanent resident is only eligible to apply for citizenship after four years. You must also generally be onshore when making a citizenship application and genuinely want to call Australia home, and continue to build a life here. Other ways to be eligible include:

  • living in Australia on a valid visa for the past 4 years
  • being a permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen for the past 12 months
  • being away from Australia for no more than 12 months in total in the past 4 years, including no more than 90 days in total in the past 12 months

A citizenship application may be refused if the Department isn’t convinced of your intention to build a life in Australia, or maintain a close and continuing association to Australia. If you have significant business or family outside of Australia that requires you to spend a significant amount of time overseas, it may affect your Australian citizenship application.


Review Rights


If your citizenship has been refused, you can request for it to be reviewed by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).

Our professionals can assist you with all steps along the way to either lodging an Australian citizenship application, or requesting and preparing for an AAT review of a refusal of a citizenship application. At Mckkrs, we are well-trained to handle highly complex matters. Book one of our agents for professional advice by calling 02 4626 1002 or email us to book in a time at We also speak fluent Hindi, Nepalese, Punjabi, Turkish, Tamil, Portuguese and Marathi . If one of these isn’t your language, we can also help you arrange an interpreter.

Statistics for Australian citizenship refusal for 2017-18 are not available from the Department of Home Affairs.

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