Are you an Australian living in the USA who’s just welcomed a new child? Congratulations! Your US-born child is eligible to apply for Australian citizenship by descent. But before you submit your application—read this article. You’ve got your hands full with your new little joey, so this guide will help you apply for your child’s Australian citizenship by descent (CBD) with minimal tears and tantrums.

And if you’re planning to travel to Australia within the next 6-9 months, read this first. There are some important reasons why you should NOT apply for your child’s Aussie citizenship just yet.

Bondi Baby photo by Natalie Stoops
Bondi Baby photo by Natalie Stoops

When to apply for Australian Citizenship by Descent

If you’re planning to travel to Australia WITHIN the next 6-9 months, hold off on applying for your child’s Australian CBD.

  • That’s because Aussie citizens must enter Australia with an Australian passport. So you need sufficient time before you travel, to first apply for your child’s CBD, and then for their Australian passport.
  • Most Australian citizenship by descent applications are processed within 4 months. Then the Australian passport application from within the US can take up to 6 weeks plus extra time to schedule a passport appointment. But delays can occur, particularly if any details are incorrect, or you’re required to submit extra information. So allow plenty of time for the CBD and Australian passport applications to be processed.

If you travel to Australia BEFORE applying for your child’s Australian citizenship, they’re able to enter Australia with a US passport and an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA).

If you’re returning to Australia PERMANENTLY (or are in the mood to gather documents and complete the application while visiting), you can apply for their CBD within Australia.

Once you’ve applied for your child’s CBD, you should NOT plan any travel to Australia until they’ve also received their Australian passport. 

  • Even though some Aussie kids with CBD have been granted entry into Australia without an Australian passport, these are exceptions to the rule.
  • Flying to Australia with kids is challenging enough. The last thing anyone flying to Australia needs is to be denied boarding or held up by the authorities upon arrival. And let’s be real: no one’s job is made easier by having to deal with jet-lagged parents and kids.
  • However, if an emergency strikes and you need to travel to Australia unexpectedly, contact the Department of Home Affairs or your nearest Australian Consulate for help.

Eligibility Criteria for Australian Citizenship by Descent 

A child is eligible to become an Australian CBD (Citizen by Descent) if:

  • They were born outside Australia,
  • At least one parent was an Australian citizen at the time of their birth,
  • They’re of good character (for applicants over 18 years)

Children born through international surrogacy may be eligible for CBD under certain circumstances. However the Australian citizenship laws for this are complex, and even more so for children adopted outside Australia. So you should consult an Australian immigration lawyer to determine the appropriate pathway to pursue Australian citizenship for your child.

Tommy photo by Shay Pennisi
Tommy photo by Shay Pennisi

Processing Times for Australian Citizenship by Descent 

The Department of Home Affairs publishes processing times, with 90 % of applications currently processed within 4 months.

Cost of Applying for Australian Citizenship by Descent 

The CBD application fee is AUD315 for the first child and AUD130 for each sibling who applies at the same time.

Process to Apply for Australian Citizenship by Descent 

Ready to apply for your child’s Australian CBD? ​​

Read the full details on how to submit your child’s citizenship by descent application here, including which documents you need to submit.

1. Gather your documents

As a minimum, this includes:

  • Identify document, e.g. birth certificate,
  • Form 1195 Identity Declaration,
  • Passport photo of the child, less than 6 months old. Make sure the photo complies with the specifications in Form 1195. www.passportphotonow.com enables you to upload a photo and have it printed to comply with Australian requirements,
  • Responsible parent documents, including proof of parents’ identity,
  • Evidence of parent’s Australian citizenship, e.g. Australian birth certificate or Australian citizenship certificate

2. Prepare the Documents

  • An authorized person must endorse and sign Form 1195 (questions 2 and 3), and the passport photo,
  • The authorized person can be an Australian or US citizen, not a relative, and working in an approved occupation, e.g. a doctor, nurse, or teacher. For children over 6 years, the authorized person must have known them for at least one year.
  • A list of approved occupations for the authorized person is specified in Form 1195.
  • The requirements for the authorized person to sign and endorse are specified in Form 1195. Make sure they use an actual signature i.e. using a pen, NOT a signature stamp.
  • Be aware that the required date format is day/month/year (NOT month/day/year, the US default). Make sure your authorized person knows this.

3. Submit the Application Online

  • Do this by creating your Immi account, filling out the online forms, and uploading all documents specified.
  • Pay the application fee online using an Australian credit or debit card, via PayPal, or BPAY. Surcharges apply.

4. Check the Application Status Regularly on Immi

  • Requests for more information or documents are via email. Check your email regularly including your SPAM folder.
  • You’ll be notified by email once a decision is made. Your child is an Australian citizen on the day their application is approved. You little ripper!
  • Typically the Australian citizenship certificate would be printed and mailed within 6 weeks. But be aware, certificate mailing may be suspended due to Covid restrictions.
Jaxon photo by Ness-Ann Mendoza
Jaxon photo by Ness-Ann Mendoza

What to do after you Apply for Australian Citizenship by Descent 

Once your US-born child gains their Aussie citizenship, they’re also a dual US-Australian citizen and as unique as a platypus. It also means you’ve got following important tasks to complete:

Apply for an Australian Passport—DO THIS ASAP!

  • Once your child’s citizenship by descent application has been approved, you can (and SHOULD) apply for their Australian passport as soon as possible. That’s because Aussie citizens must enter Australia with an Australian passport.
  • Allow 6 weeks to receive the Australian passport after you apply. Plus you may need extra time to schedule the next available appointment and travel to an Australian diplomatic or consular mission.
  • If you haven’t yet received the Australian citizenship certificate, use the confirmation email/letter as evidence of Australian citizenship for an Aussie passport application. Specifically, the client ID number on the CBD application is required for the passport application. 

Celebrate!

Your child doesn’t need to attend a citizenship ceremony. But go ahead and celebrate in a way that befits your newly crowned Australian citizen. This could involve a Bluey marathon, a stash of Australian chocolates, biscuits, and lollies, a sprinkle of Aussie gifts, gifts from Amazon while you help out a charity, fun outings in New York, or chilling with a backyard barbie. And after you’ve eaten the last party pie, sit down and update your will

Australian Voting Rights for Citizens by Descent

If your child is 18 years or more, they can enroll to vote in Australian elections.

Traveling as a Dual Citizen

As a dual US-Australian citizen, your child should enter and leave Australia with their Australian passport, and enter the US with their US passport. And in the “post-Covid” phase, here’s what you need to know about vaccinations and quarantine requirements when you travel to Australia in 2022.

Tax Obligations for Dual US-Australians Citizens

It’s true! The nights are long but the years are short. Before you know it, your little koala will ask for the car keys (eek!) and start paying taxes. Be aware that dual US-Australian citizens have specific tax obligations, even if you return to Australia permanently. It takes a village, so speak to a specialist tax accountant for help navigating US and Australian tax systems.

If You Need Help Applying for Australian Citizenship By Descent

Contact the Department of Home Affairs. To connect with other parents applying for citizenship by descent, join the Aussie Mums in the USA group.

Remember, once your child is an Australian citizen they MUST enter Australia with an Australian passport. 

What if your child’s Aussie CBD application is ALREADY in progress and you’ve ALSO booked travel to Australia?

  • If their CBD gets approved AND you receive their Aussie passport before your departure date, you’re good to go.
  • But remember, your child is an Aussie citizen the day their CBD application is approved. So if you don’t have enough time to apply for their Aussie passport before you’re due to fly, contact the Department of Home Affairs for help.
  • Your options include requesting an emergency Australian passport, or rescheduling travel until you’ve secured their Australian passport. You can also withdraw their CBD application, which means you will need to re-apply for their Australian citizenship by descent, and re-pay the fees, down the track.

Welcome New Aussies

Now you know how to apply for your child’s Australian citizenship by descent, all that’s left to do is frame their citizenship certificate. No doubt it’s going straight to the pool room!

Finnley photo by Shayne Evans
Finnley photo by Shayne Evans