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And the changes keep on coming! Next Stop, Australian Citizenship.

The Liberal government seems to be overhauling everything and anything with the word “Immigration” attached.  Just when we all thought it couldn’t get any more interesting, changes to the Australian Citizenship requirements as well as general eligibility were announced!  

By way of background, initial discussions earlier this year seemed to indicate that the proposed changes to Australian citizenship eligibility would likely be implemented at some stage this year. These changes were originally scheduled to come into effect on or around December 2017.  We now have access to new citizenship requirements which are published on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s website with immediate effect.

Changes include:

  • Increasing the general residence requirement, which means an applicant for Australian citizenship will need to demonstrate a minimum of four years permanent residence immediately prior to their application for citizenship
  • Introducing an English language test, which means applicants will need to demonstrate competent English language listening, speaking, reading and writing skills before being able to sit the citizenship test
  • Strengthening the Australian Values Statement to include reference to allegiance to Australia and require applicants to make an undertaking to integrate into and contribute to the Australian community
  • Strengthening the test for Australian citizenship through the addition of new test questions about Australian values, and the privileges and responsibilities of Australian citizenship
  • Introducing a requirement for applicants to demonstrate their integration into the Australian community
  • Strengthening the Pledge of commitment as a citizen of the Commonwealth of Australia in the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 to refer to allegiance to Australia; and extending the requirement for individuals aged 16 years and over to make the Pledge to all streams of citizenship by application, including citizenship by descent, adoption and resumption.

As mentioned the effect is immediate which means that any applications made on or after 20 April 2017 are subject to the above rules. The Department assures that “the changes will not apply to applications made before 20 April 2017 (that is, the current rules will continue to apply to applications made before 20 April 2017)”. 

If you have lodged an application for Australian Citizenship, the Department of Immigration may be in contact with you to request additional information as appropriate.  If you are lodging an application on behalf of a client or yourself, you will need to be familiar with the new requirements to avoid any unnecessary delays with processing of your application.

As always, I am happy to hear your thoughts and comments: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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  • Guest
    Shannon Friday, 21 April 2017

    Hi Ross,
    Thanks of the post. My question is, the reforms were announced on the 20th of April but no legislation is currently in place to enforce it and on the MIA site (taken from immigration) it says it will go through community consultation and then be legislated in late 2017.

    How can then enforce the new requirements without legislation?

  • Guest
    James Wednesday, 26 April 2017

    Exactly. I'm asking the same question. Changes like the 1 to 4 year PR requirement need to be changed in the Act, not simply Regs ammendments like the 457. The current Citizenship Act is in force, so an application made now (ie after April 20) is made under the current Act.

    Can a new Act take effect retrospectively ?

  • Guest
    Vince Wednesday, 26 April 2017

    Exactly, can anyone shed some light on this topic?

    As the current Act is still in force and not amended yet, what is the legal basis for the department to simply ignore the law and impose new requirements?

    And, if they are imposing these new requirements, how? Are they simply gonna put all post 20 April applications on hold and wait for the amendment act to come into force and then apply it?

    Wonder if that happens, anyone is going to the High Court to get a mandamus.

  • Guest
    John Friday, 21 April 2017

    What is unclear to me from both this post and others in the news, is whether "four years permanent residence" means living in Australia for four years after becoming a permanent residence, or whether e.g. years on temporary visas count towards this requirement.

  • Guest
    Anthony Wednesday, 26 April 2017

    Must have held a PR visa for four years This has been reported. no recognition is given for time spent in Australia under a TR visa. I have clients who have been in Australia for 6 years and they have to wait another 3 years as they have held a PR vi for only 1 year. I fail to see the logic behind these rules,

  • Guest
    Raghav Saturday, 22 April 2017

    Will this apply for International Students too , Who came to study in Australia ?

  • Guest
    Jazz Saturday, 22 April 2017

    Dont you think its unfair and the rules should apply on people who obtain permanent residence on or after 20th april and rest can apply under same old rules. I mean thats what normally happens.

  • Guest
    Anthony Wednesday, 26 April 2017

    The rues apply to all people who apply now. Even if you have held a PR visa prior to April 19

  • Guest
    Robert Steain Wednesday, 26 April 2017

    The Government [as administrator] has the right to introduce changes to legislation, effective immediately. The changes must then be presented to Parliament [within a specific time frame which I don't recall] as a Bill to be considered for change to be ratified. If said change does not pass both houses [after 1st, 2nd and 3rd readings, etc] then the subsequent effects of now defunct change must be addressed. This is not so easily done as said- Alco-pops tax increase fell into this category until opposition finally realised that it was virtually impossible to return said increase to those who paid it and passed the relevant legislation.
    Why the Citizenship changes [or indeed alco-pops tax] was considered so urgent as to require immediate action rather than the usual introduction of a Bill is what remains a mystery.

  • Guest
    Mili Wednesday, 26 April 2017

    My wife rung citizenship office and they said it's 4 years of residence after you get permanent resident visa.

  • Guest
    David Stephens Wednesday, 26 April 2017

    Thanks Robert. It gets even more complicated when you consider that citizenship may be a right. Someone who is eligible now under current law will have that right removed by retrospective legislation. That becomes a legal argument many would like to sink their teeth into.

  • Guest
    Anthony Wednesday, 26 April 2017

    The main issue is the Changes do not give recognition to the time spent in Australia.

    I have no issues with a 6 year wait for citizenship but think that shifting the goal posts to only take into consideration time spent as a Permanent resident is discriminatory and negative.

    It means a person who comes to Australia on a 186/189 or 190 visa has to wait just four years before they can apply for Citizenship whilst a person who comes on a Marriage/Partner(6 years). Student or Temporary work visa visa and wants to stay in Australia will have to wait 7 years or more.

    The ill-considered changes will reduce Australia's appeal as a destination for study and for temporary work entitlements.

    A student visa holder will have to wait 4 years as a student another 2 to 4 years on a Graduate visa and then 4 more years if they can secure a Permanent Residency visa. No consideration or credit given to the many years spent already living and working in Australia. This will add to the divisions and leave open visa holders to abuse.

    There is no consistent or fair pathway for citizenship for those who come on Temporary Visas, (Including Student visas).

    The changes do nothing to address the rorts in the Training Benchmark process or unemployed Australians.

    The retrospective aspect of the changes make the situation even worst and seriously undermines Australia Immigration program. There are many who qualified under the old rules now will have to wait up to an additional 3 years because there was no notification of the governments intent.

    The Senate should take steps to deny these changes. Many that are regulatory not legislative.

  • Guest
    Lesley Wednesday, 26 April 2017

    What about this? Person lodged paper based Citizenship application in early April and was recently returned the documents because he did not lodge "certified copies" of documents in his paper based application. I can't see anything in s46 that required "certified copies" of documents. All his documents were in English. Is there an appeal process for this type of departmental decision? I can't see anything about "invalid applications". Any ideas?

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Guest Monday, 01 May 2017