On 20 April 2017, the Australian Government announced it is strengthening the integrity of Australian citizenship. The Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Requirements for Australian Citizenship and Other Measures) Bill 2017 (the Bill) was introduced into Parliament on 15 June 2017. On 18 October 2017, the Government proposed amendments to the Bill.
As a result of the proposed amendments and subject to the passage of legislation, the new requirements for citizenship will come into effect on 1 July 2018 and 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.
- To meet this requirement you are not able to have spent more than 12 months outside of Australia doing the four year period and not spent more than 9o days outside Australia within the twelve months prior to making the application
- There are waiver provisions to this requirement
- 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. There are number of eligible tests that can be undertaken such as IELTS, PTE and TOFEL and test are valid for a period of three years. Even if a test was undertaken prior to coming to Australia in support of the application for Permanent Residency, a new test will need to be undertaken
- 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
- You will be able to sit the test a maximum of three times and if you do not pass this test a three year Bar will apply before you can sit the test again
- Applicants caught cheating will automatically fail
- Introducing a requirement for applicants to demonstrate their integration into the Australian community. This involves demonstrating what you have done during the time you have spent in Australia.
- Strengthening the Pledge of commitment as a citizen of the Commonwealth of Australia in the Australian Citizenship Act 2007to 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.
Subject to the passage of legislation required to enact some of the measures, the changes will come into effect, and apply to applications made from the date of the Government’s announcement.
If you applied before, on or after 20 April 2017
If you applied for Australian citizenship before, on or after 20 April 2017, your application will be assessed against the eligibility criteria in place when you applied. If your application has not yet been finalised, we will write to you when it reaches the next stage of processing, or if we require any further information or documents.
If you apply before 1 July 2018 (subject to the passage of legislation)
If you apply before 1 July 2018 (subject to the passage of legislation), your application will be assessed against the current eligibility criteria.=
If you apply on or after 1 July 2018 (subject to the passage of legislation)
As from 1 July 2018 (subject to the passage of legislation), the new requirements for Australian citizenship will take effect. If you apply for Australian citizenship on or after this date, your application will be assessed against the new requirements.
There are different steams in making an application for Australian Citizenship that include:
- Child adopted outside Australia by an Australian citizen
- Child aged 15 years or under or an unaccompanied minor
- Child aged 16 or 17
- Child born outside Australia to an Australian citizen
- Child of a former Australian citizen
- Commonwealth Child Migration scheme arrival
- Migrant with permanent residence
- New Zealand citizen living in Australia
- Person born in Papua before independence in 1975
- Resume Australian citizenship
- Spouse or partner of an Australian citizen
- Refugee and humanitarian entrants
The current criteria for Australian Citizenship for a Migrant with Permanent residence require that you have:
- 4 years lawful residence in Australia. This period must include 12 months as a permanent resident immediately before making an application for Australian citizenship
- absences from Australia of no more than 12 months in total in the 4 years prior to application, including not more than 90 days in the 12 months immediately prior to application.