Citizenship Changes – What are they and are they happening or not?

In April the government announced several changes to the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 but those changes were a proposal, they didn’t become law straight away as the 457 Visa Changes.

What were the main changes proposed:

  1. Instead of having to live in Australia for 12 months as a Permanent Resident, people will have to live here, while holding a Permanent Visa, for at least four years.
  2. Instead of only having to take the current Citizenship Test, people applying for Citizenship will also have to provide evidence of “competent” English. In other areas of Migration Law that means a score of 6 in each component of the IELTS General exam, for example.
  3. Applicants would have to show evidence that they have integrated into the Australian community.

 

In June, however, the Labor Party decided to oppose the proposed changes, and things started to get difficult for the government. Shadow Minister for Immigration, Shayne Neumann said in Parliament “The current citizenship test is already in English and these proposed changes by the government are an additional test being added to the list of their desired requirements. Being an Australian citizen should be about your values and commitment to this country, not whether a person can speak a university level of English.”

Since then not much has happened, and if you try to apply for Citizenship now, the Department of Immigration takes the proposed changes as current requirements, but they haven’t been officially approved. If they are approved, they will apply retrospectively to all applications lodged on or after 20th April, after the legislative changes were proposed/announced.

It’s September now as we write this, and a lot of people are in “Citizenship Limbo”. But Senators from the Greens Party, Labor Party, from Nick Xenophon’s team and Senator Jacqui Lambie have come to the rescue: they gave Minister of Immigration Peter Dutton an ultimatum.

He now must present his bill with the proposed changes by 18th October; otherwise, it will be removed from the Senate notice paper, and it cannot be voted then unless the government presents a new motion to restore the bill to the notice paper, and by then things may not happen at all.

So keep tuned as there will be news by October for sure.

Erica Carneiro
Co-Founder, Director and Registered Migration Agent 0532487