When you’re looking to apply for Australian citizenship as a permanent resident, you may come across a question in the application asking for the evidence of first arrival.
What does it mean exactly and what qualifies? Let’s break down what the Department of Home Affairs is looking for when asking about your arrival into Australia and proving your stay.
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👮To Note: An Australian permanent resident and an Australian citizen are not the same. As a permanent resident you are considered a non-citizen and you are not able to vote in Australian elections or get an Australian passport, amongst other conditions.¹
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Your immigration and path to citizenship is unique to you and your family, so while information online can be helpful, it is best to consult with an immigration specialist and to verify information with the Australian Department of Home Affairs. This article is not to replace a professional understanding of Australian immigration nor intended to provide advice.
The Department of Home Affairs will be looking to note when you first arrived in Australia. This can be done through VEVO, your electronic visa, travel documents with your visa, or stamps on your passport showing the entry date into Australia. ²
The Visa Entitlement Verification Online, or VEVO, service will only be able to show you the current visa(s) that you hold, but not any visas from the past. VEVO is only for visa holders and organizations that need to verify visa conditions, and not for Australian citizens.
The 3 common ways to become a permanent resident in Australia are³:
- Family stream permanent visa
- Work stream permanent visa
- Business or investor-stream permanent visa
Your permanent residency visa will have a date of arrival/ must-not-arrive after date as part of your visa’s conditions. This can be a date given to you after the visa has been granted for you to arrive in Australia and is a requirement for your visa to take effect.
You can check this date on VEVO under your visa conditions list.
There is a chance that your visa may be cancelled if you arrive after the specified date, but it is up to the discretion of the Department of Home Affairs.⁴
You may be asked to show proof of your permanent residency in Australia when you are dealing with Australian government agencies. You can do this easily with the VEVO system. Using VEVO you can print, email your status or provide your information for the agency to check. ⁵
Certificates, cards or labels are no longer issued for this as the system has shifted to the digital VEVO format.
If you are looking to apply for Australian citizenship, you are required to be a valid permanent resident at the time of application, but there are two additional time requirements⁶.
- You were present in Australia for at least 4 years immediately before making your application
- You were at least in Australia as a valid permanent resident for the 12 months preceding the date you made your application.
There are certain exceptions for trips abroad, such as:
- if your absences over the 4 years don’t add up to more than 12 months
- that you weren’t absent for more than 90 days in the preceding 12 months from making your application.
But check with the Department of Home Affairs first to ensure you qualify for the general residency requirement.
You can use the Residency Calculator to help you estimate the number of days that you have lived in Australia. To calculate the number accurately, you will need to provide the exact dates for:
- Your permanent residence in Australia
- Your lawful residence
- Your intended lodgement
- Travel in and out of Australia in the last 4 years
Remember, your permanent residence dates are calculated based on where you were granted your permanent residence visa. If you were outside of Australia, your permanent residence dates start as of when you arrive in Australia on the visa. If you receive your permanent residence visa when you are already in Australia, then it begins on the date it was granted.⁷
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You can request your travel records in and out of Australia using Form 1359 Request for international movement records (280KB PDF) from the Department of Home Affairs. The records will only show your travel in and out of Australia, and not travel to other countries.
If you travelled to Australia before 1990, you may not have an electronic record. You can get an electronic visa record from the Department of Home Affairs online. Here is the step by step guide to getting your visa record⁸:
Step 1: Get your original identity documents together
A current passport or a passport that expired within the last 3 years
An photo ID issued in Australia like a driver’s license or proof of age card.
An active card verifying your identity like a Medicare card, concession card or bank or credit card.
A minimum of 3 documents with dates showing you have been in Australia continuously since you first arrived. This includes:
- School records
- Employment records
- Mortgage or lease agreements
- Utility records
- Tax records
- Marriage certificate or old student, Centrelink or Medicare card
The passport or document used to first enter Australia with the pages showing your picture, name, date of birth and all pages with stamps or labels, OR your passenger arrival card with your name and arrival date stamp for Australia.
Step 2: Scan all of your documents in color and in high resolution to your computer. Black and white copies, photocopies, non-passport quality photos or a file size larger than 10MB won’t be accepted.
Step 3: Next, complete the online application for an electronic visa record and attach your scanned documents.
Once you are done and all the documents are verified and submitted correctly, the Department of Home Affairs will take 14 days to get back to you.
- Citizen vs Permanent Resident
- Documents for First Entry
- Common Permanent Visas
- Date of arrival
- Proof of permanent residency
- Residency in Australia for Citizenship
- Residency Calculator
- Travel History
All sources checked as of 22 March, 2021
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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