With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
Recently, the Australian government changed the citizenship laws, making the application process to become an Australia citizen much stricter. Indeed, there are more changes expected in the coming months.
These changes arose as a result of an overhaul of a number of immigration laws relevant to Australian migration and citizenship. The ideology behind these changes is that being an Australian citizen is a privilege that provides a vast number of rewards, and thus, should be obtained only where the recipient truly emulates the Australian culture and values, and will appreciate the privilege with which they have been endowed. As such, the changes reflect the growing need in our society for Australian citizens to perpetuate the Australian values of diversity, unification and harmonisation. Some of the privileges gained from being an Australian citizen include, having the right to:
- Apply for an Australian passport
- Re-enter Australia freely
- Vote in state/territory and federal elections, as well as in a referendum
- Seek election to parliament
- Apply for jobs in the Australian Defence Force or in the Australian Public Service
- Register children born overseas as Australian citizens by descent
Even with these changes in place, Australia is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. As of 30 June 2016, it was recorded that 28.5% of Australia’s population had been born overseas (6.9 million people). However, with the privileges of becoming an Australian citizen, all Australians must understand that there are responsibilities. Therefore, in order to keep Australia the democratic and free country that all citizens enjoy, it is essential that all Australian citizens:
- Obey the law
- Vote in federal and state/territory elections, and in a referendum
- Defend Australia should the need arise
- Serve on a jury if called to do so
All applicants who apply to become Australian citizens must understand and acknowledge the great privilege that they obtain by becoming an Australian citizen. The requirements for becoming an Australian citizen are:
- Be a permanent resident, having held permanent residency in Australia for at least 4 years prior to applying
- Must not have spent more than 12 months (cumulatively) outside Australia in the 4 years prior to applying
- Be of good character
- Be likely to reside or continue to reside in Australia, or maintain a close and continuing association with Australia
From 20 April:
- Have ‘competent’ English, assessed through an English language test, demonstrating competent English language listening, speaking, reading and writing skills, before being able to sit the citizenship test
- Have shown evidence of integration and contribution to the Australian community
- Pass the citizenship test, which had more questions added about Australian values, and the privileges and responsibilities of Australian citizenship
- Pledge commitment to Australia, as per the Australian Citizenship Act 2007.
Further changes to citizenship requirements are also set to take place, pending senate review, with Immigration Minister Peter Dutton looking to implement a ministerial power to overrule tribunal decisions regarding the validity of a citizenship application. The purpose of this proposed change is to increase the accountability of tribunal members, as there have been reports that they have been allowing citizenship contrary to the good character requirement, necessary for citizenship. In turn, the proposed change aims to increase transparency and accountability of the immigration appeals system.
To become an Australian citizen is a great privilege, and all people, citizens and applicants alike, must understand that obtaining this privilege comes with a number of responsibilities. This being said, all people who emulate and respect the Australian values and culture should be allowed the greatest opportunity for a successful citizenship application possible, and this is most effectively achieved through obtaining the help of an Immigration specialist or lawyer.
At Immigration Solutions Lawyers, our team of expert solicitors will ensure that you have the greatest chance at success in all of your migration exploits. With all of the changes to migration law and policy recently, why would you try to traverse the challenging immigration landscape without a guide?
Stay tuned to our news page for information regarding the further changes to citizenship and visa requirements over the coming months.
For more information on Immigration Solutions Lawyers, visit our website.
 Department of Immigration and Border Protection. (2017). https://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Citi/Curr/Even/Why-
 Above, no 1.