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Australian Government has 3 days to pass Citizenship Changes

Australian Federal Parliament will sit in session until 28 June 2018. Whilst there is no indication that the widely controversial Citizenship Bill, initially seen in 2017, will be debated, the Government has a limited number of days to attempt and pass the Legislation which will amend the current Australian Citizenship requirement before 1 July as previously planned.

By way of background, there are many pathways available to migrants to become Australian Citizens. Generally, Citizenship by Conferral appears to be the most common pathway chosen by migrants to become citizens.

To become an Australian citizen, you need to meet certain requirements. For most applicants these include:

  • being a permanent resident at time of application and time of decision

  • meet the residence requirements

  • being of good character

  • have a basic knowledge of the English language

  • intend to reside or maintain a close and continuing association with Australia

  • have an adequate knowledge of the responsibilities and privileges of Australian citizenship.

If you are 60 years of age or over you are not required to sit the citizenship test.

The general residence requirement is based on the amount of time an applicant has lived in Australia.

At the time of application, an applicant must meet all the following:

  • have lived in Australia on a valid Australian visa for four years immediately before applying

  • must have been a permanent resident for the 12 months immediately before making an application and not have been absent from Australia for more than one year in total, during the four-year period, including no more than 90 days in the 12 months before applying.

The initial attempt to change the Citizenship Act was announced on 20th April 2017 by the current Government. The changes were to be retrospective which meant that all lodged applications would have been impacted by the changes. The Government was unsuccessful in passing the proposed changes through Parliament therefore processing of lodged applications resumed under the existing requirements. The Government has nonetheless indicated that it would attempt to pass the legislation once again with effective date set as 1 July 2018.

If the legislation is passed prior to 28 June during the Parliament’s last sitting week, the following additional requirements will be applicable:

  • increase to the general residence requirement. The proposed changes indicated that an applicant would need to spend at least four years as a permanent resident in Australia prior to applying

  • tougher English language requirement. During its last attempt to pass the legislation, the Government faced major backlash over this requirement

  • as part of the assessment of the application the applicants will need to demonstrate integration into the Australian community

  • strengthening the pledge to refer to allegiance to Australia, and extending the requirement to make the pledge to applicants aged 16 years and over for all streams of citizenship by application, including citizenship by descent, adoption and resumption

  • potential citizens will also need to demonstrate their integration into the community, including by "behaving in a manner consistent with Australian values"

If you are considering applying for Citizenship under the current rules, there is still time to apply and take advantage of the current rules. Should the legislation pass before 1 July 2018, longer processing times are to be expected. Contact one of our Registered Migration Agents to discuss the matter further.

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.

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