Australian Citizenship Changes – what you need to know

Zhanna Heenan

Visa News
On the 20th April 2017, the Australian government announced more sweeping changes to the immigration program. On this occasion, their focus was on applications for Australian Citizenship.

Proposed changes:

1. Residence Requirements

Applicants must be permanent residents for four years before applying for citizenship. In addition to this, applicants cannot spend more than a total of 12 months outside Australia during this time. Before this, the requirement was only 1 year of permanent residency but 4 years of living in Australia. It is no longer possible to count time spent in Australia on a temporary or bridging visa towards the four-year requirement for permanent residency.

2. English Requirements

Applicants will now need to sit an English test to demonstrate that they have at least competent English before they sit the citizenship test. Competent English would require a score of 6 in each band of IELTS or one of the alternative tests of English. Previously, applicants only needed to demonstrate that they had basic English which was tested when the applicant went to sit the citizenship test.

3. Integration Requirement

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection is also requesting that applicants demonstrate their integration into the Australian community.

This is likely to include providing evidence that you are:

In addition to this, the Department of Home Affairs will undertake extra security and character checks. If there is evidence of any of the following, your citizenship application may be refused:

4. Citizenship test

A new citizenship test will be introduced which tests Australian values more thoroughly. Applicants will be able to attempt the test a maximum of 3 times before being suspended for 2 years.  Previously, there was no restriction on the number of times that a person could attempt the test. If a person is found to be cheating on the citizenship test this will result in an automatic fail.

5. Shared Values Statement

It is also proposed that the Australian values statement be strengthened to include references to allegiance to Australia and require applicants to make an undertaking to integrate into and contribute to the Australian community.

6. Pledge of Commitment

All applicants aged 16 years and over are required to pledge their allegiance to Australia before being granted Australian citizenship.

The Australian government has advised that these reforms will not be introduced immediately but will be introduced by the end of 2017.



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