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Citizenship

Citizenship is the legal recognition that a person is the subject of a nation or state. Citizenship can be both native or naturalised. Further, a person can be a citizen of more than one country (although there a countries which prohibit this). Native citizenship is citizenship which applies from birth. Native citizens are born in the country that they are a citizen of. Naturalised citizenship occurs by way of immigration to another state. A person can become a citizen of another country when they spend the requisite amount of time living there on a permanent basis. Citizenship means that a person can hold a passport of that country, travel to and from it without restriction, be immune from deportation, and vote in elections. In turn, a citizen is expected to obey the laws of that country and pay taxes.

Citizenship in Australia

In Australia, citizenship is only granted upon birth if the person is the child of an Australian citizen or permanent resident. For example, a person born inside Australia without Australian parents will not be an Australian citizen. A person can only become an Australian citizen if they have lived in Australia lawfully for at least 4 years and been a permanent resident for at least one year.

Upon application for Australian citizenship, applicants also have to undertake a citizenship test.

Legislation

Laws relating to citizenship and immigration in Australia are found in statute, regulations and instruments. Migration laws are under the helm of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth). These laws, regulations, and instruments set out the requirements and process that has to be followed to obtain visas and residency in Australia.

The Australian Citizenship Act 2007 (Cth) sets out the requirements and process to obtain Australian citizenship. Immigration and citizenship matters are administered by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA).

What is a Citizenship Lawyer?

A citizenship lawyer provides expert advice and will help with applications regarding migration and citizenship within Australia. There is a range of citizenship-related matters that lawyers will deal with; these include applying for various forms of visa and advising on a client’s eligibility, submissions and character applications. Citizenship lawyers understand all the possible types of visas, and they can provide general advice regarding the appropriate visa for their clients.

Why do I need a Citizenship Lawyer?

Most people will have a different reason for staying in Australia. If you are thinking of moving to Australia permanently, for a period or a purpose like work or study, a citizenship lawyer will be able to help. They can advise you on the complete application process for a visa as well as which visa applies to you. Their extensive knowledge of the application process is beneficial as lawyers know the most appropriate information to put into any of your submissions. As well as this, if you have had a visa refused or revoked, a citizenship lawyer will be able to help.

What will a Citizenship Lawyer provide?

A citizenship lawyer will provide many services. Primarily, they will be able to complete the application process for you. In addition to this, they will provide general advice and can draft any submissions that are required by you for the government. Their ultimate goal is to provide a simple, time efficient and effective application process to ensure your submission has the highest chance of success.

How much will a Citizenship Lawyer charge?

Applying for citizenship is commonly a fixed price, generally ranging from $300 upwards. This is because the government costs associated with the application are usually standardised. Citizenship lawyers will often charge above this and depend on the help a client needs with a submission they will charge more. In some cases, a lawyer may charge by the hour if the client requires consultation for more difficult matters.

Hourly rates and Court fees

The cost of a Citizenship Lawyer will vary based on the scope of the work. Small issues likely to be addressed quickly will cost less. For matters that will need to go to the relevant Court or Tribunal, there may be additional fees involved, particularly as this work takes time. These types of matters may also involve obtaining documents and negotiating with the other party.

What can a Citizenship Lawyer legally charge?

Legal costs can rise very quickly, especially in litigation. However, this is sometimes hard to avoid when work is being done by a lawyer on an hourly basis. Where fixed-fees are not offered by the lawyer, you should expect to be invoiced on a monthly basis with a time period within which you are required to make payment. Lawyers are required to adhere to the rules outlined in the relevant acts. For example, in NSW and Victoria, this is the Legal Profession Uniform Law 2014. Lawyers who do not comply with these rules can face disciplinary action from the law society of their State.

Lawyers are required to provide to their clients a document called a ‘costs disclosure’ if your costs will be higher than $750.00. This document will outline how costs will be calculated in relation to your case. Also be mindful that costs are divided into ‘professional costs’ and ‘disbursements’, and you will be expected to pay for both. Professional costs are the costs of the actual work done by the lawyer, whilst disbursements cover incidentals such as court filing fees, telephone calls, photocopying charges – amongst other things.

What if I don’t agree with the costs?

You have the right to request an itemised bill that will outline how much time was spent on each task in relation to your matter, and how this adds up to the fee you’re requested to pay. If you wish to dispute the cost, you can make a complaint to the The Office of the Legal Services Commissioner (OLSC) and they will investigate the matter and may allocate a costs assessor. You can also take further legal action in the Courts if you feel you have been unfairly charged

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