The Value of Australian Citizenship

May 2, 2017

The Australian Government has Tightened Criteria on Citizenship Eligibility.

‘Membership of the Australian family is a privilege and should be afforded to those who support our values, respect our laws and want to work hard by integrating and contributing to an even better Australia’ – Malcolm Turnbull

These changes reflect a substantial redefinition of what it is to be an Australian Citizen.

Recently, the Australian Government has made significant changes to the Temporary Work (subclass 457) visa and introduced stricter requirements for Australian Citizenship.

The Australian Government will introduce legislation throughout the remainder of the year, however all Citizenship changes will apply as of the announcement date, 20 April 2017. Therefore, anyone who has lodged an application already, even if the application is still pending, the new changes will not affect your application. Please note, this is different for those who have pending 457 visa applications. For further information on 457 visa changes, please click here. For our Principal Lawyer’s comments to Lawyers Weekly on these changes, please click here.

Residency Requirement

Aspiring Australian Citizens will need to meet new residency requirements before they can apply for citizenship. Currently applicants are required to have been in Australia for at least four years, including at least one year as a permanent resident, prior to the lodgement of a citizenship application. The changes will require aspiring citizens to have held permanent residency for at least four years prior to applying. Additionally, the applicant cannot have spent more than 12 months (cumulatively) outside of Australia in the four years prior to applying.

English Language Requirement

A greater emphasis has been placed on the ability for aspiring citizens to be able to listen, speak, read and write in English. As such, the Australian Government is introducing a higher level of English language competency for aspiring citizens. Before 20 April 2017, aspiring Citizens only required basic knowledge of the English Language, however now, applicants must have ‘competent’ English. Aspiring Citizens will be required to show that they can use and understand ‘fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations’. This requires a score of at least 6 in each of the four components in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

Proof of Integration

A new component of the Australian Citizenship application will require aspiring citizens to show how they have integrated into the Australian community. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection will review the applicant’s employment and educational engagement, involvement in community organisations and if they have been paying their taxes. There is also going to be additional scrutiny of an applicant’s criminal record or any other indiscretions that may have occurred during their time in Australia or overseas.

Australian Values Statement

The Australian Government will make changes to the Australian Values Statement. The statement will be changed to include allegiance to Australia and require Applicants to make an undertaking to integrate into and contribute to the Australian community.

Citizenship Test

Changes will be made to the Australian Citizenship test to ensure that aspiring citizens share Australian values and beliefs including democratic beliefs, specific freedoms, equality and integration. The Australian Government has also introduced a three attempt limit to pass the citizenship test.

It is clear that the Australian Government and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection are becoming extremely forensic in the assessment of visa and citizenship application. Obtaining thorough and correct immigration advice from the beginning, can streamline the application process. Immigration Solutions Lawyers are experts in Australian Immigration and Citizenship. Contact the office today for a consultation.

For more information on Immigration Solutions Lawyers, please click here.