Immigration and citizenship


9.61 Children are processed through the Australian immigration system as refugees, migrants[97] and temporary entrants such as students.[98] Children apply to enter or stay in Australia independently or as part of a family group. They may come into contact with the federal tribunals reviewing migrations and refugee decisions as well as the federal court system. Children also use legal processes to obtain Australian citizenship.

9.62 The Inquiry’s focus in this section is on procedural issues not the visa or citizenship entitlements for child immigrants and refugees. Much of the evidence given to the inquiry concerned substantive matters.[99] Although the Inquiry acknowledges the importance of these matters, they are outside our terms of reference.

9.63 The visa processing discussion in this section is also limited to children as primary visa applicants, that is, children applying for visas in their own right not as family members attached to an adult visa application.[100] Given the Inquiry’s central premise concerning the family and state in protecting children, the Inquiry has also considered the arrangements for immigrant children in the care and protection system.


9.64 Children sometimes have difficulty proving their entitlement to be registered as Australian citizens. For example, the relationship between their parents can end acrimoniously and their citizen parent refuse to co-operate with the certification process. There is provision for people under 18 to apply for citizenship in their own right.[101] However, these arrangements are little known or understood, are not explicitly set down in the Australian Citizenship Act 1948 (Cth) and are rarely used by young people in their own right.

9.65 A Citizenship Information Kit aimed specifically at young people and their guardians should be developed to explain the procedures by which children can obtain certificates of Australian citizenship. The Kit should include information on the evidence needed to establish a claim to citizenship, particularly where parental conflict may impede a child’s capacity to do so.[102]

Recommendation 24 A Citizenship Information Kit aimed specifically at young people and their guardians should be developed to explain the procedures by which children can obtain certificates of Australian citizenship.

Implementation. DIMA should develop the Kit and advertise it appropriately, targeting Australian communities with high immigrant populations.

[97] From 13 December 1996 to 30 June 1997, 154 child visa applications were lodged in Australia: DIMA answer to Question on Notice at Estimates Hearing 11/6/97 table 6 — RESI 2 download of 2/7/97. In the same period 950 child visa applications and 149 adoption visa applications were lodged outside Australia. The majority of applications were lodged in Manila (155), Shanghai (97), Suva (79) Ho Chi Minh City (76) and Hong Kong (75). As at end of July 1997, 665 child visa applications and 79 of the adoption visa applications remained undecided: table 11 — MPMS run date 18/7/97.

[98] arts 8–10, 22 of CROC are relevant to child migrants and refugees.

[99] eg several submissions expressed concern about the impact that the public interest criteria, particularly the medical criteria, can have on child visa applications: Immigration Advice & Rights Centre IP Submission 164; Vic Government IP Submission 213.

[100] Children can apply for a number of sub-classes of visa in their own right. Visa subclass 101 is available to dependent children, including certain adopted children, of Australian citizens and permanent residents, applying outside Australia: Migration Regulations 1994 reg 101.211. Visa subclass 802 is available to children living in Australia who are the dependent children of Australian citizens or permanent residents (including New Zealanders resident in Australia): Migration Regulations 1994 reg 802.211. Visa subclass 102 is available to children who have been adopted overseas or are to be adopted when they arrive in Australia: see para 9.73.

[101] See the Citizenship Instructions issued by DIMA: ch 5.

[102] This proposal was supported by Taxi Employees’ League DRP Submission 21.