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PM announces more changes to immigration policy, Australian citizenship next.

Migrants looking to apply for citizenship need to rethink the time they need for their future.

As another set of changes have been introduced by Prime Minister The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull as he is determined to make strict changes within the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Why has it been changed?

The Prime Minister has been working closely with The Hon. Peter Dutton, Minister of Immigration and Border Protection, to reform the citizenship test to ‘ensure applicants are competent in English, have been a permanent resident for at least four years and commit to embracing Australian values’. He continued by stating that ‘membership of the Australian family is a privilege and should be granted to only those who supported the Australian values, respected laws and wanted to work hard by integrating and contributing to an even better Australia.’

Figures published last year by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that 28% of the country’s population was born overseas and this percentage has been growing consistently for the last 15 years, with the majority of people coming from the UK and New Zealand. Now peaking at a rate that has not been seen since the late 1800s.

From the year 1949, five million people have taken the pledge to become Australian citizens. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics that by the year 2050, it is estimated that approximately one-third of Australia’s population could be born overseas.

 

The 6 new requirements to gain Australian citizenship:

  1. 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.
  2. Introducing an English language test, which means applicants will need to demonstrate competent to English language listening, speaking, reading and writing skills before being able to sit the citizenship test (e.g. according to the IELTS, competent level is equal to overall score of 6.0).
  3. Strengthening the Australian Values Statement in application forms for visas and citizenship to include reference to allegiance to Australia and require applicants to make an undertaking to integrate into and contribute to the Australian community.
  4. Strengthening the test for Australian citizenship through the addition of new test questions about Australian values, and the privileges and responsibilities of Australian citizenship. While also limiting the amount of attempts an applicant preforms to three attempts every two years;
    The practice questions are available, here.
  5. Introducing a requirement for applicants to demonstrate their integration into the Australian community. Applicants will need to demonstrate their integration into the Australian community by providing, for example, documentation to the effect that people who can work are working, or are actively looking for work or seeking to educate themselves; that people are contributing to the community by being actively involved in community or voluntary organisations; that people are properly paying their taxes and ensuring their children are being educated. Applicants’ criminal records and adherence to social security laws are also relevant.
  6. Strengthening the Pledge of commitment 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 of commitment to all streams of citizenship by application, including citizenship by descent, adoption and resumption.

‘Relevant exemptions will apply, such as for permanent or enduring incapacity and for those under 16 years of age.’

 

What about New Zealand applicants?

It is confirmed the four-year permanent residency criteria would apply to New Zealand citizens who applied after the Government’s announcement on April 20. New Zealanders living in the country on Special Category Visas (SCVs) could work and live in Australia indefinitely, but had limited access to government services and no pathway to citizenship.

Under the new pathway policy passed in February 2016 and coming into effect in July 2017 allows New Zealanders holding special category visas to secure permanent residency after five years in Australia earning $53,000 annually would have been able to attain citizenship a year later.

However, changes announced by  the Prime Minister and Immigration Minister The Hon. Peter Dutton on Thursday mean all new citizenship applicants must have been permanent residents for at least four years, while introducing a more stringent citizenship test.

“I wouldn’t agree it completely undermines it just because the deal was put in place and there is a path to citizenship and that wasn’t there before Prime Minister Turnbull agreed to put it in place, but it is disappointing for them – for the Kiwis [in Australia] and for ourselves – that it looks like it will take longer,” The Hon. PM of New Zealand, Bill English, said in a press conference on Monday (Fergus Hunter, Sydney Morning Herald, April 24 2017)

 

What can you do?

If you have suggestions on establishing changes to values and other citizenship test questions, you have until 1st June 2017 to provide your view by emailing the citizenship submissions mailbox at: citizenship.submissions@border.gov.au

Groups:

Say No To 4 Years Wait After PR On Australian Citizen

Say no to Turnbull’s new residence requirement for Australian Citizenship

The Coalition will have to pass the changes through Parliament but if they do, those who apply for citizenship from 20 April 2017 will be subject to the new rules.

Link to Strengthening the test for Australian citizenship; here.

 

What can we do to help?

At Ready Migration, we consult with each client individually and assess your eligibility for migration to Australia, whether it be for a temporary or permanent stay, and offer support and assistance throughout the entire immigration process. If you would like expert and affordable visa advice tailored to your individual circumstances, simply complete our no obligation Free Visa Assessment.

One of our experienced, registered migration agents will be in touch with you to advise you of your options on working and or living in Australia.

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