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Australian War Brides & Their Children

Australian Citizenship Act 2007 in Force since 1 July 2007!

Since 1 July 2007, we've helped hundreds of people outside Australia apply for Australian citizenship. We're here to help you too. For links to the new application forms, and useful tips, tricks and links to help with your application, see below or our home page.

Has the SCG been of service to you? Please consider making a donation to show your appreciation. We are an entirely volunteer run organisation with no paid staff. Your donation will help us offset various outlays for postage, copying, stationery, web-hosting fees, telephone costs, etc. You can send a cheque in US$, or donate online through the Amazon Honor System. Thank you!

Overview

The Southern Cross Group is trying to find women who left Australia as war brides during or just after World War II and their children.

Recently enacted changes to Australian citizenship law mean that many in this group who are not currently Australian citizens are now able to apply for Australian citizenship. After a long wait, the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 was finally passed by Parliament in Canberra on 1 March 2007 and received Royal Assent on 15 March 2007. It came into force on 1 July 2007. It's important that people who are going to be able to benefit from these reforms understand the changes and their implications.

If you are a war bride of Australian origin who is presently not an Australian citizen, or the son or daughter of an Australian-origin war bride who is not an Australian citizen, the material in this section of our site has been written especially for you. Please read it carefully so that you are fully briefed. And make sure you get in touch with us so that we can guide you through the application process.

The Australian War Bride Story

It is estimated that thousands of Australian women married American servicemen during or just after the Second World War. Although, sadly, some of these women are no longer with us today, many are still alive and are in their late 70s, 80s and 90s. Typically, their children are in their 40s and 50s. Now that the operative provisions in the new Australian Citizenship Act 2007 have come into effect, thousands in this group who are not presently Australian citizens are able to apply to become Australian citizens.

Wartime Romances

The Second World War was a time of great uncertainty for many in Australia, but also a time of great excitement, particularly when Allied troops visited Australia. Many young Australian women were quite taken with "those handsome young men in uniform from so far away" and inevitably, relationships were formed when large numbers of US military in particular were stationed in Australia or had leave in Australia during the war in the Pacific.

Some couples married during the war itself. Others became engaged during the war and married afterwards. The liaisons were not always looked upon favourably by the Australian families of the women concerned or the wider Australian community, or by the US military authorities. Some couples had to wait many months for permission to marry.

In almost all cases, towards the end of the war or immediately post-war, these Australian women undertook a long sea voyage to the US to be with their husbands or fiances, aiming to make a new life thousands of miles from Australia and their own families. Often they knew little of their new husband's families or what America was like in advance. Many women experienced all sorts of immigration hurdles in gaining permission to enter the United States. Some faced difficulties in obtaining divorces and maintenance from their American partners for themselves and their children when relationships broke down. A number of Australian war brides did later return to Australia to live, for a variety of reasons.

Loss of Australian Citizenship

Many thousands of Australian war brides settled permanently in the United States and embraced their new homeland, learning about the US way of life. Some of them decided to become US citizens, because they wanted the right to vote in their country of residence, because their husband and children were US citizens, and/or because US estate tax laws would greatly penalise them financially on their US-citizen husband's death if they themselves were not US citizens.

Those Australian women (and other Australians) who acquired US (or other) citizenships on or after 26 January 1949 and before 4 April 2002 automatically forfeited their Australian citizenship under Section 17 of the Australian Citizenship Act 1948. In most cases, overseas-born children did not have access to Australian citizenship through their Australian mothers due to sex discrimination which existed in Australian citizenship law at the time, which meant that Australian citizenship by descent could usually only be passed on to an overseas-born child by an Australian citizen father, and not the mother.

War brides and others who lost their Australian citizenship under Section 17, and their overseas-born children, now enjoy simplified access to Australian citizenship under the new Australian Citizenship Act 2007. Applications for Australian citizenship by those resident in the US can be lodged with the Australian Embassy in Washington DC.

If you are a war bride of Australian origin, or another person who lost their Australian citizenship in the past under Section 17 when you acquired another citizenship, go to this page for more information.

If you are the child of an Australian war bride or you have or had a parent who is or was an Australian citizen, and you do not presently have Australian citizenship, read this page for information that will assist you.

Today almost one million Australians make their homes outside Australia. Australians have a natural curiosity about the rest of the world, and our war brides were probably the first and largest single group to leave Australia en masse to live abroad. They are a fascinating and integral aspect of Australia's modern history. They and their children are an important facet of Australia's diaspora. The SCG is delighted that its advocacy efforts in the area of citizenship law reform will soon benefit Australian war brides and their children, amongst many others.

Tell us Your Story, and Help us Keep you Informed!

If you are a war bride of Australian origin, the child of a war bride, or someone else who lost their Australian citizenship or who has not had access to Australian citizenship although you had an Australian parent, please tell us your story. We can be reached at info@southern-cross-group.org, or you can talk or write to our SCG USA volunteer Robyn Stephenson:

Robyn Stephenson
SCG USA Coordinator
530 William Street
Zeeland, Michigan, 49464
USA

Tel: +1 (616) 748 7993
E-mail: robyn@southern-cross-group.org

If you have e-mail, then sign up to the SCG's free e-mail bulletin list, so that you can receive updates on the above reforms, including information as to how to prepare your citizenship application, and other information of interest to those in the Australian diaspora.

If you don't have e-mail, then please write to us or phone us with your full contact details so that we can add you to our snail mail list and keep you updated by post. Your contact details will be kept fully confidential.

Have you already applied for Australian citizenship since July 2007? We'd be glad to hear from you about your experiences. Was your encounter with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship a positive one? Were there any hitches with your application? How long did it take to be processed and decided? Are you still waiting and wondering? The SCG is monitoring processing times and administrative issues for Australian citizenship applications globally and welcomes your feedback. In several cases we have recently stepped in to act for applicants before the Department where matters have been less than satisfactory.

If you are an Australian-born war bride or another Australian-born person who became a naturalised US citizen (or took citizenship of another country) BEFORE 26 January 1949, or the child of a war bride or other person in that position, please contact the SCG without delay. Consult your naturalisation certificate to find out your date of naturalisation. See the letter we wrote to the Australian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship on this particular scenario on 11 June 2007. Our legal assessment in that letter was confirmed by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship by e-mail dated 10 July 2007. This means that Australian-born WWII war brides who took US citizenship before 26 January 1949 and who on their date of US naturalization were married (not divorced or widowed) became Australian citizens on 26 January 1949. It is likely that they have been Australian citizens ever since (i.e. dual citizens) and that their US-born children can therefore now apply for Australian citizenship by descent. If this is your scenario, please contact us.

The Long Road to Reform: The SCG has been lobbying for these changes since 2000. The planned reforms were first announced by the Australian government on 7 July 2004, and then included in the Australian Citizenship Bill 2005 tabled in Parliament in Canberra on 9 November 2005. There was then a Senate Inquiry into the Bill from November 2005 to February 2006. The Bill was then not debated again in Parliament until late 2006. It was finally passed with a number of amendments on 1 March 2007, receiving Royal Assent on 15 March 2007. The provisions in the 2007 Act enabling war brides and their children to apply for Australian citizenship came into force on 1 July 2007.

See below and the SCG Home Page for links to the new citizenship application forms and other tips and tricks.

Further useful information on this site:

DIAC Form 132: Application to resume Australian Citizenship

DIAC Form 118: Application for Australian Citizenship by Descent

DIAC Form 1290: Application for Australian Citizenship by Conferral (for those born outside Australia whose parent had lost Australian citizenship by the date of their birth)

SCG Information Sheet for US-based applicants on how to apply for US Police Clearances to put with applications for Australian Citizenship, 10 August 2008 >>>

SCG Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers) for Australian Citizenship Applicants in the United States, 10 August 2008 >>>

SCG Guidance Document on Obtaining Australian Birth, Death and Marriage Certificates for Australian Citizenship Applications, 22 April 2007 >>>

SCG Guidance Document for All Australian Citizenship Applicants on how to prepare Certified Copies/Endorsed Photographs, in US Letter size format >>> or A4 size paper format >>>

Make a Donation to the SCG! (For those in the US who would like to donate by sending a cheque drawn on a US bank) >>>

Make a Donation to the SCG! (For those anywhere in the world who would like to donate online using the Amazon Honor System and a credit card) >>>

Listen to an ABC Radio National Life Matters segment on the citizenship changes with SCG Co-founder Anne MacGregor in Brussels and war bride son Doug Norris in Alaska, aired on 4 July 2007 >>>

SCG Media Release of 1 July 2007
"100,000 Eligible for Australian Citizenship Overseas" >>>

SCG Media Release of 26 June 2007
"Vietnam War Bride to Resume Australian Citizenship" >>>

SCG Letter to the Australian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship re Police Clearances for Resumption and Descent Applicants, 22 June 2007 >>>

Proclamation by the Governor-General of Australia dated 7 June 2007 concerning the commencement on 1 July 2007 of the operative provisions of the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 >>>

SCG Letter to the Australian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship re War Brides who Naturalized in the United States before 26 January 1949, 11 June 2007 >>>
(The six annexes to this letter can be downloaded from the Dual Citizenship folder of our website archives, 2007 subfolder)
E-mail Response from DIAC dated 10 July 2007 confirming the Legal Interpretation by the SCG in the 11 June 2007 Letter >>>

SCG Letter to the Australian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship re Citizenship Status of Australian-born Children of War Brides and their Children, 14 May 2007 >>>

Response from Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship re Citizenship Status of Australian-born Children of War Brides and their Children, 29 May 2007 >>>

Listen to an ABC Radio National Life Matters segment with the son of an Australian war bride, Lawrie McElynn, in South Carolina, aired on 26 April 2007 >>>

Listen to an ABC Radio National Life Matters segment on war brides in Washington DC for ANZAC Day 2007, with SCG Co-founder Anne MacGregor, aired on 25 April 2007 >>>

SCG ANZAC Day Media Release for the Australian Media, 19 April 2007>>>

SCG ANZAC Day Media Release for the US Media, 19 April 2007 >>>

Australian Citizenship Act 2007 >>>

If you are having trouble obtaining an FBI criminal history record check in the US because your fingerprints are worn or faded, please contact the SCG. This issue is arising for a number of elderly female applicants.

Australian Government Citizenship Website >>>

Australian Citizenship Issues for War Brides >>>

Australian Citizenship Issues for Children of War Brides >>>

Other War Bride Information and Contacts >>>

SCG Letter sent to known brides 12 October 2004 >>>

Letter sent by SCG to known brides & children August 2006 >>>

Letter sent by SCG to known brides July 2007 >>>


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Updated:
15 September 2008