Can You Ever Lose Your Australian Citizenship Status?

by The FindLaw Team

There probably aren’t many readers out there who don’t believe that becoming an Australian citizen is a wonderful thing and a person who has become an Australian would probably not want to do anything that jeopardises their citizenship. However, some readers might not be aware that an Australian citizenship can be revoked under certain circumstances, such as providing false information in order to gain a visa, or the person has a history of committing serious criminal offences that may also prevent the person from becoming a citizen.

Although an Australian citizen by birth or a person who has been granted citizenship after disclosing their full personal history to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (the Department) cannot have their citizenship revoked under any circumstance.

Revoking a citizenship

The power to revoke an Australian citizenship is vested with the Minister of Immigration and Citizenship (the Minister) and can be done so in the following instances:

• the person has been found guilty of making a false or misleading statement in relating to their citizenship application
• the person has been convicted of an offence against either an Australian or foreign law and have either been sentenced to death, or a term of imprisonment for 12 months or more
• the person has been convicted of a serious criminal offence and has been sentenced to at least 12 months imprisonment at any time prior to becoming a citizen
• the person has gained citizenship either through migration, or third party fraud
• the Minister is satisfied that it would be contrary to the public interest if a person remains an Australian citizen.

Readers should be aware that children under the age of 18 can also have their citizenship revoked, unless one of the parents of the child is a citizen. Although the Minister cannot revoke a person’s citizenship if they have disclosed all relevant information, and citizenship has been granted. Additionally, the Australian Citizenship Act (the Act) prevents a Minister from revoking a person’s citizenship if he or she is unable to become a national or citizen of another country, and in such a case, the Minister cannot cancel the person’s citizenship status.

One of the more interesting aspects of the Act can be found in s 35(1)(b) and s 35(2), which states; that a person ceases to be an Australian citizen if they choose to serve in the military of another nation that is engaged in armed conflict with Australia.

Revoking a person’s citizenship is a serious undertaking and the action can only be carried out under limited circumstances. Also, allow us to reemphasise that if you are a citizen by birth, or have already been granted citizenship legitimately, you will remain an Australian unless you choose to renounce your citizenship.


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