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Increased Flexibility for Australian Citizenship Applicants

Increased flexibility for Australian citizenship applicants

November 2021

Increased Flexibility for Citizenship Applicants

In order to apply for conferral of Australian Citizenship, applicants must generally have spent prescribed minimum periods of time in Australia, both in total and as the holder of a permanent Australian visa.

On 14 September 2021 Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, the Hon. Alex Hawke MP announced that there would be changes to “streamline the pathway to citizenship for some of our most talented prospective Australians”.

The Minister announced that the Government would extend the special residence concession (s. 22B of the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 (Cth)) to all distinguished talent visa holders and to athletes in the Australian Commonwealth Games team.

The ‘special residence requirement’ may apply for a range of applicants who, due to their work, undertake significant international travel and where it is in the Australian national interest, including Australian representative sportspeople, ships’ crew, senior business people, research scientists, and distinguished artists.

What are the normal residence requirements?

Generally, applicants for conferral of Australian citizenship must meet the following residence requirements:

  • Four (4) years lawful residence in Australia. This period must include 12 months as a permanent resident immediately before making an application for Australian citizenship;


  • Absences from Australia of no more than twelve (12) months in total in the four (4) years prior to application, including not more than ninety (90) days in the twelve (12) months immediately prior to application.

What is the special residence requirement?

The special residence requirement dictates that an applicant must have:

  • Held a visa for the last four (4) years; and
  • Lived in Australia for at least 480 days (16 months) during that time; and
  • Have been a permanent resident for at least 12 months; and
  • Were in Australia for 120 days in the year immediately before applying.

Work that requires overseas travel

The special residence requirement may apply to applicants:

  • Who have been engaged in particular kinds of work; and
  • Whose employer can demonstrate that they have worked in that occupation for at least two (2) years of the past four (4) years; and
  • Where they were/have been required to travel outside of Australia for that work.

What occupations are eligible for the special residence requirement?

Relevant occupations for the special residence requirement include:

  • a member of the crew of a ship or aircraft;
  • a worker on a resources installation or a sea installation;
  • a Chief Executive Officer or Executive Manager of an S&P/ASX All Australian 200 listed company;
  • a Scientist employed by:
    • an Australian university who has attained a PhD in their field of speciality and is undertaking research and development of benefit to Australia; or
    • Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO); or
    • a medical research institute which is a member of the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI);
  • a medical specialist, internationally renowned in their field, who is a fellow of an organisation listed in Schedule 4- Part 1 of the Health Insurance Regulations 1975 (Cth) and holds a relevant qualification in relation to the organisation;
  • a person who is a writer or is engaged in the visual or performing arts and who is the holder of, or has held, a Distinguished Talent Visa.

Activities supported by particular organisations

If you want to engage in activities that are supported by particular organisations, such as the Australian Olympic and Paralympics committees, Tennis Australia, Cricket Australia or a federal government agency, then the special residence requirement may also apply to you.

The residence requirements in this regard are:

  • You must have been living in Australia on a permanent Australian visa for two (2) years immediately before you apply; and
  • During those two (2) years, you must have been lawfully present in Australia for at least 180 days, including at least 90 days in the 12 months immediately before you apply.

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To speak with an experienced, specialist immigration lawyer regarding your Australian visa application or options, please contact us on +61 3 9329 8744 or by email at

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