If you have been living in Australia for a period of 12 months as a permanent resident, then you should consider your citizenship options as a matter of urgency.
Whilst controversial changes to citizenship laws fell through parliament this year, it is likely that the Government will seek to re-introduce the proposed bill next year.
If changes do go ahead, the citizenship process will become far more difficult and potentially unreachable for many applicants. On the top of the list of the many proposed changes that fell through this year, was the introduction of an English language requirement which could prove very challenging for many prospective applicants. Currently, no formal English test is required.
Migrants living in Australia on permanent residencies often delay seeking citizenship even though they have effectively made Australia their new home. For those who now call Australia home, there are risks in delaying becoming a citizen.
Becoming a citizen is the only way to guarantee that you have the right to remain in Australia. Permanent residents are at risk of losing their status if they spend long periods of time outside of Australia, or if they commit certain crimes. As Australian immigration laws are constantly changing, any delay in obtaining citizenship carries with it an inherent risk that one could lose their right to remain in Australia on a permanent residency in the future.
Acquiring citizenship allows you to stay indefinitely in Australia as well as to exit and re-enter the country at any time. Although a permanent resident can stay in the country indefinitely, those seeking to go overseas and return to the country, will need to apply for a Resident Return Visa every five years and pay the application fee. As an Australian citizen you hold the privilege to travel visa-free to 170 countries around the world.
For parents, or those seeking to raise a family in Australia, the transition from a permanent resident to a naturalised Australian means that children then born to you in Australia will receive automatic citizenship and children then born to you outside Australia will be able to be registered as Australian citizens by descent.
Guaranteeing citizenship for your children will confer a range of benefits that only come with being an Australian citizen, including benefiting from financial assistance for education. Whilst it is true that you and your children can apply for citizenship at a later date, it is often the case that families living on permanent residencies in Australia delay or disregard the obtaining of their citizenship, and consequentially, face difficulties with their visa status later on in life.
If proposed visa changes are introduced next year, the application process to become a citizen will become longer, more stringent and more costly. It is recommended that permanent residents who are eligible to become citizens should do so at the earliest.
SCA Connect can assist you with your citizenship application. We provide free online assessments for prospective applicants. To complete an online assessment on your eligibility for an Australian visa, please click here.
Disclaimer: The information provided herein is of a general nature only and does not constitute immigration advice. For more detailed and case specific information or advice, please contact SCA Connect.