A new Bill was introduced into Parliament for its first reading on 17 June 2017 which proposes significant changes to the current Citizenship Act 2007.
The Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Requirements for Australian Citizenship and Other Measures) Bill 2017 proposes a number of amendments, including proposals to strengthen requirements to become an Australian citizen.
Some of the proposed amendments are:
- A pledge of allegiance will replace the pledge of commitment
- All children born in Australia will not automatically attain citizenship when they turn 10 years of age including children born to diplomats, if the parent did not hold a substantive visa or if their parent or they were unlawful
- Character will apply to everyone not just those over 18 years of age and all applicant will have to show they are of good character
- The expansion of the definition of what will be considered to be bad character from a sentence being of imposed of 12 months and expanding it pending offences, being on parole, confined to a mental health facility, in prison or a court ordered residential scheme.
- Mandatory cancellation of approval where the Minister is not satisfied as to the person’s identity, is subject to an adverse security assessment, convicted to a national security offence or where the person is a adopted pursuant to the Hague convention and has been sentenced to imprisonment of at least 5 years
- Discretionary cancellation where new information is to hand of the person fails to take the pledge without excuse
- Must have competent English unless exempted or over 60 years of age or under 16 years of age
- Adequate knowledge of the privileges of Australian citizenship
- Must be integrated into the Australian community
- Must have been resident in Australia for 4 years prior to application and not absent for more than 365 days unless waived by the Minister for spouse and defacto partners, surviving spouse and defacto partners of deceased Australian citizens, certain NZ citizens and officers of the Commonwealth, states or territories and where administrative errors have occurred
- The Minister will also have the power to set aside certain decisions of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal where it had affirmed the refusal of the delegate not to grant citizenship based on character concerns, to cancel an approval for citizenship and the person has not become an Australian citizen
- The Administrative Appeals Tribunal cannot review a decision to refuse a visa to a child aged under 18 unless the child is a permanent resident and holds a permanent visa prescribed in a legislative instrument and decisions made by the Minister personally to grant residency by waiver of residency requirements or for administrative error, or to refuse citizenship in the public interest.
If you would like advice on your eligibility for Australian citizenship or for an Australian visa, please contact our team of Registered Migration Agents and Immigration Lawyers.