In July 2017, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) had received more than 81,000 Citizenship applications.
This was a direct consequence of Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull’s announcement of 20 April this year, when he proposed to:
- introduce a stand-alone English language test requiring the applicants to demonstrate University level English language in listening, speaking, reading and writing being a band score of 6 on the general IELTS exam;
- increase the general residence requirement to four years from one year.
Other requirements were:
- strengthening the Australian values statement to include reference to allegiance to Australia and requiring applicants to undertake 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;
- a requirement for applicants to demonstrate their integration into the Australian community; and
- strengthening the pledge to refer to allegiance to Australia, and extending the requirement of pledge from applicants aged 16 years and over for all streams of citizenship by application, by descent, adoption and resumption.
According to DIBP, the standard timeframe for processing 90 per cent of these applications was 13 months!
While the bill was in parliament, it received strong resistance from the Opposition and people from all over Australia, particularly those eagerly waiting to commit to Australia. Numerous questions were raised; questions such as, ‘Australia is considered one of the most multicultural countries in the world; what is the purpose of these new rules?’
Now the good news. The bill was rejected by the Senate on 18 October 2017; thus a remarkable setback for the Federal Government.
Consequently, the old Citizenship rules continue that you may be eligible to become an Australian:
- if you have lived continuously and legally in Australia for the past four years;
- are physically present in Australia and have not been absent for more than twelve months in the last four years;
- are of good character; and
- have been an Australian permanent resident for one year and have lived in Australia for at least nine out of twelve months within the last one year before applying for Australian Citizenship.
If you think you are eligible, now is the time to apply for Australian Citizenship.
Be aware, Minister Dutton will most likely reintroduce an amended version of the Bill on 1 July 2018.
It is always recommended to seek professional advice for lodging such applications as calculating the requisite days of your permanent residency could be confusing. There are other factors to consider for instance that eligibility requirements for citizens of New Zealand are different to those from other countries.
Naga Putchala is a Senior Paralegal at Stephens and Tozer and admitted as a lawyer in India. Having worked with an immigration advice centre in Melbourne before moving to Brisbane has equipped her with substantial knowledge in Australian Migration Law, be it a Visa or Citizenship matter. If you have any queries with regards to Australian Migration, please feel free to contact our migration team.
4 December 2017