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Fast-tracked citizenship proposal for families of ADF personnel

Fast-tracked citizenship proposal for families of ADF personnel

Australian citizenship will be fast-tracked for any family members of Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel under new legislative changes.

In a joint statement from immigration minister Chris Bowen and defence science and personnel minister Warren Snowdon, the pair announced a "reduced residence requirement" that could allow family members of ADF personnel to make an Australian citizenship application after 90 days of service.

The changes will be particularly relevant for spouses of ADF personnel, as well as the migration agents who may be tasked with preparing this type of citizenship application.

The proposed amendments would bring residency requirements for family members in line with other legislation that currently applies to ADF members, as well as their dependent children under the age of 16.

Known as a concessional residence requirement, these individuals are currently allowed to make an application for Australian citizenship after six months in the reserve forces or 90 days of service in the permanent forces.

Until now, children over the age of 16, spouses and elderly parents were not able to make an application at the same time - and were instead required to wait for four years before qualifying to apply for Australian citizenship.

But according to Snowdon, the new changes could benefit entire families - and could make highly-specialist roles within the ADF more attractive to potential recruits.

Snowdon said: "This amendment will provide more equitable treatment and greater certainty for ADF lateral recruits and their families, so that all family members can become Australians at the same time."

He added that any current or future ADF overseas lateral recruits would be eligible to take part in the new initiative if they were granted a visa on or after July 1 2007 - as long as they are participating in "relevant defence service".

The six-month service requirement in the Naval, Army and Air Force Reserves will also be reduced to a minimum required attendance of 90 paid service days.

Interestingly, the proposed amendment also would ensure that family members' citizenship eligibility would not be affected in the unlikely event that the ADF member dies within the initial 90-day period.

Bowen remarked on Tuesday (May 22) that the new measures demonstrate the government's recognition of consistent citizenship requirements for families of ADF personnel.

"This amendment will help these families access employment opportunities and education assistance, as well as aid them in building a close and continuing relationship to Australia," he said.

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