In a sweeping review of Australia’s citizenship requirements Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced today (20 April 2017) that there will be a greater emphasis on Australian values, a demonstrated capacity to integrate into the Australian Community, greater English language skills, more detailed evaluation of a person’s criminal record and longer residency requirements.
The Prime Minister said there is “no more important title in our democracy than ‘Australian citizen’, and the institution of citizenship must reflect Australian values”.
“We’re not defined by race or religion or culture, as many other nations are,” he said.
“We’re defined by commitment to common values, political values, the rule of law, democracy, freedom, mutual respect, equality for men and women … and our citizenship process should reflect that.”
The changes for Australia’s new citizenship requirements are:
- The current residency requirement to be eligible for citizenship will increase from 12 months (1 year) to 4 years;
- Applicants will be required to pass an English language test equivalent to IELTS level 6 equivalent, or a “competent” English language proficiency level;
- The government will make changes to the pledge of Australian citizenship and add questions to the current test aimed at cracking down on inappropriate attitudes on issues such as violence against women, child and forced marriage, female genital mutilation, etc.;
- Applicants must provide evidence of integration including employment, tax payments and schooling for children;
- Domestic violence, gang related activity and organised crime associations will be included in more forensic police checks. Currently if you are sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 12 months or more, even if you don’t serve the actual sentence you are deemed of bad character. the new test would look more deeply into people’s history for even minor offences which were not consistent with Australian values such as social welfare fraud and abuses;
- A citizenship test will have new questions that would target religious extremism will be designed to demonstrate appreciation of Australian values, with potential questions to include whether the principle of religious freedom allowed for children to marry, genital mutilation, striking a spouse and prohibiting girls from school:
- The new requirements will also limit the number of times an applicant can fail the citizenship test to three.
The changes will have to pass through Parliament, but if they are successful then the new system will come into force from today.
The Government has released a discussion paper regarding the Australian citizenship changes which can be found here.
Are you wanting to apply for Australian citizenship?
These Australian citizenship requirements are significant changes and anyone contemplating seeking Australian citizenship should seek advice as to how these changes will affect them. Our team of Immigration Lawyers and Registered Migration Agents will assist you with any Australian citizenship queries or questions you may have. Contact us today.