AHK Event Report: Workshop - Australian/German Dual Citizenship

Melbourne, 04 March Sydney, 05 & 06 March

The German-Australian Chamber of Industry and Commerce has recently introduced a new event format – a series of workshops which give members who are service providers and experts in certain fields a platform to present relevant topics. Held in the AHK offices in Melbourne and Sydney over 3 dates, the topic of “Australian/German Dual Citizenship” attracted a total of approx. 50 participants. Presented by Ully Fritsch, a registered migration agent (MARN 1790167) and Director of our new Member Chapter 2 Australia, the workshops addressed the following questions:

 • What are the benefits of Australian Citizenship versus Permanent Residence?
Certain government/social benefits, such as HECS loan, are only available for Australian citizens, and it is widely expected that others may follow. Furthermore, citizens can be absent from Australia for extended periods, without risking their right to return; by contrast Permanent Residents wishing to travel overseas require a Resident Return Visa (RRV) - after the initial five years as a permanent resident - and must meet its eligibility requirements…which could change at any time. Naturally the ever-increasing Visa Application charges – also applicable to the RRV- are no longer a consideration for Australian citizens.

• Could you qualify for Australian citizenship by conferral under current regulations?
For most applicants the ’General Residence Requirement’ applies which means they must have lived lawfully in Australia for the past 4 years, including the past 12 months as a permanent resident. A temporary absence of 12 months in total is permitted, but not more than 90 days during the 12 months immediately before lodgement. There are also strict ‘character requirements’ for all applicants and a citizenship test (for applicants between 16-59 years of age) that need to be passed before citizenship is awarded at the ceremony.

Could you qualify to retain your German citizenship (in German: Beibehaltungsgenehmigung - BBG) and become a dual citizen?
BBG is required to retain German citizenship for German citizens who are permanent residents, planning to become Australian citizens (by conferral) without losing their German citizenship. Special provisions apply to children below the age of 16. BBG is granted by the competent authority in Germany on an individual basis and submitted via the German Consulate in Sydney. Criteria for Assessment include ongoing ties to Germany as well as specific reasons for wanting to become an Australian citizen. Depending on the age at the time of application and the number of years spent in Australia, certain long-term residents are exempted from providing reasons of why they want to become Australian citizens. Detailed information is available on the German consulate website.

 • How do the two applications (for Australian citizenship and the BBG) affect each other and what timing issues do you need to consider?
The BBG permit comes into effect upon collection and is valid for 2 years from the date on the certificate. This means, a BBG holder has to have become an Australian citizen before the BBG certificate expires. Considering that the application process for Australian citizenship currently can take close to two years (from time of application to ceremony) Ully Fritsch in most instances recommends, that intending applicants who meet the eligibility criteria for Australian citizenship, lodge the Australian citizenship application at the same time as the BBG application.

We thank our guests for attending the workshop, and of course Ully Fritsch for travelling to Melbourne and Sydney from Perth to present this interesting topic.

Please note: The Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany should be your first point of contact when it comes to visa and citizenship enquiries.