There are four main ways to immigrate to Australia--through family members, as a returning resident, via employment, and as a refugee or humanitarian migrant. Although the process is somewhat complex and time consuming, the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship confirms that Australia has accepted more than 6.8 million immigrants since 1945.
Australian immigration is available to fiance(e)s, domestic partners (including spouses and same-sex partners), children, parents and certain other family members of Australian sponsors. Eligible sponsors include Australian citizens and permanent residents as well as some New Zealand citizens. Domestic partners usually are able to apply for permanent residency after two years.
To immigrate to Australia as a returning resident, you must have spent at least 18 years in Australia at some point in your life, nine of which must have been as a permanent resident. You also are eligible if you have completed at least three months of service in the Australian armed forces before Jan. 19, 1981.
Immigration Via Employment
Immigration to Australia through employment is possible for those who are sponsored by Australian employers. Not all positions qualify--this type of visa normally is available to skilled workers, workers in industries in which qualified Australians are in short supply, or workers recruited by an industry association pursuant to a labor agreement. Employees also may bring their immediate family to Australia on this visa.
Australia's refugee and humanitarian immigration program is available to those in Australia who qualify as refugees based on the standards of the United Nations Refugee Convention. Those abroad may seek immigration to Australia if they qualify as refugees under the U.N. Refugee Convention or if they live outside their home country and are subject to substantial human-rights violations in their home country. Overseas applicants must be sponsored by an eligible individual or organization in Australia.
To enter Australia, prospective immigrants must possess valid travel documentation (such as a passport), complete a physical examination conducted by a doctor approved by Australian immigration authorities, and obtain police reports (confirming the presence or absence of a criminal record) from anywhere they have lived for at least one year since age 16. Although entry may be denied for reasons of health problems or bad character, some flexibility regarding travel documentation is available under certain circumstances (e.g., refugee status).
Applying for Australian Citizenship
To apply for Australian citizenship, the prospective citizen must have legally resided in Australia for four years, including at least one year as a permanent resident; he must demonstrate good character (normally established through reference to a criminal record, or lack thereof), and pass a citizenship test in English. Numerous exceptions and modifications apply to these rules, such as disability-based exemptions to the citizenship test.