You may have heard in the media last month that the Courier-Mail reported the Government may not pursue legislative changes that will require permanent residents to wait longer and meet tougher tests to become eligible for Australian Citizenship. The Federal Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has since denied reports that changes to the Citizenship test will not go ahead.
Changes to Citizenship laws were due to be implemented at the end of 2017, however parliament sittings to discuss the Citizenship Bill had been delayed. The changes were heavily contested in the media and opposed by the Senate in 2018 and at this stage, the parliament’s approval is still required.
What are the proposed citizenship changes?
If the Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment Bill is passed into law, it would enforce the below changes to Citizenship eligibility requirements:
- A four year wait as an Australian permanent resident (instead of the current one year);
- The introduction of an English language test and the need for migrants to achieve a ‘competent’ level of English;
- A tougher Citizenship test to assess ‘Australian values’ and a ban from taking the test in the next two years if the applicant fails three times;
- And the need for migrants to show evidence of their integration into the Australian community. This may include an assessment of the applicant’s character.
Migrant support programs needed
Media reports claiming that the Government may not proceed with the above changes to Citizenship had been welcomed by the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Council of Australia (FECCA).
FECCA Chairperson, Mary Patetsos says, “An overwhelming majority of migrants seeking Australian citizenship already have high level English language skills, and those skills develop rapidly in-country.”
Ms Patetsos says the Government’s focus should be on establishing migrant support services rather than imposing changes to Citizenship requirements. She stated, “What is important is ensuring equitable access to affordable and quality English language learning and other support services for migrants, for example child care for parents as required. We should encourage and incentivise not punish or deter.” You can read about the proposed English language test requirements for Citizenship in our article here.
According to the Government’s immigration plans over the next three years, the Government has committed $71 million to delivering migrant support programs to assist with the process of settling into the Australian community. We look forward to keeping you updated as initiatives come to light.
Interstaff | Over 30 years of Australian Visa and Citizenship Experience
Interstaff will keep you updated on the progress of Australia’s proposed changes to Citizenship. You can read about the benefits of becoming an Australian Citizen here.
If you have been on an Australian permanent residence visa for one year and would like to find out of you are eligible for Australian Citizenship, simply contact our team of Registered Migration Agents on +61 8 9221 3388 (or National Free Call 1800 449 858) or [email protected]