Changes to Australian Citizenship eligibility requirements are likely to be confirmed in coming months as amendments to the legislation have now been scheduled for review in parliamentary sittings.
If the changes proposed in the Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment Bill are passed into law, we can expect the eligibility requirements to tighten and result in more migrants becoming ineligible to apply for Citizenship. It could also result in the need to wait a longer period as a permanent residence visa holder before becoming eligible.
The amendments push for a person’s English language capability, adoption of Australian values and good character to be assessed as part of the Citizenship process. Below are the changes to Australian Citizenship that will be considered:
Four years as a permanent resident in Australia
- Citizenship applicants will need to have lived in Australia as a permanent residence visa holder for four years instead of one year
- Time spent in Australia on a temporary visa will no longer count towards the residence period
• Applicants can only spend a maximum of 1 year outside of Australia during the permanent residence period
Introduction of an English language test
- Applicants will need to pass a stand-alone English language test and achieve a level of ‘competent’ rather than a ‘basic’ level of English
Citizenship test to assess Australian values
- The new citizenship test questions will assess the applicant’s allegiance to Australia and adoption of Australian values by assessing views on democracy, social freedoms, equality and integration
- An automatic fail for cheating during the citizenship test
Applicants to demonstrate their integration into the Australian community
- Applicants will need to demonstrate how they have integrated into Australian society – for example, evidence of employment, contributions to community or voluntary organisations, and school enrolment for children
- The applicant’s character may be assessed to determine whether their conduct is consistent with Australian values. Applicants will be screened for offences such as domestic or family violence, criminality and involvement in gangs and organised crime.
We expect the changes will make it more difficult for migrants to apply for and be granted Australian citizenship. If the new residency requirement is passed into law, permanent residents will have to wait until the four-year mark and meet more strict requirements, such as a stand-alone English test to become eligible for Citizenship. Applicants may also only have three attempts to pass the citizenship test and may only be able to reapply after two years if citizenship is refused.
Last year, the proposed changes to the citizenship requirements were heavily contested in the media and opposed by the senate. It will be interesting to see whether the proposed changes to Australian citizenship will be passed into law in coming months. We will keep you updated on any developments as they arise.
Are you eligible for Australian Citizenship?
Interstaff offer a free assessment to help you understand if you are eligible for Australian Citizenship and can also assist you with the application process. Simply contact our registered migration agents on 08 9221 3388 or [email protected]
If you are considering whether to apply, you may also be interested in our article on the Top 8 benefits of Australian citizenship.